23 min: Emerson has a go at this one, and it’s not great. He’s looking for the top right, but he’s nowhere near. Goal kick.
22 min: Now Zaha goes in the book. He’s shown the yellow card for a blatant tug on Willian, who had just robbed him of possession and was making off down the inside right. Another free kick in a promising position for Chelsea.
20 min: Pulisic is a wonderful player. He tap-dances around in the Palace area, showcasing some fine ball control in a very limited space. He can’t quite open Palace up, but it’s an entertaining watch nonetheless.
19 min: Zaha nudges Kovacic off the ball. It’s a garden-variety free kick in the middle of the park, but Zaha is fortunate not to join Willian in the referee’s notebook, after kicking the ball away in frustration.
17 min: Yep, someone’s going into the book. But it’s not a Palace player. Emerson wins a corner for Chelsea out on the left. Willian takes, but Kouyate clears at the near post. Ayew looks to launch a quick counter down the right, and he’s cynically brought down by Willian, the Chelsea captain taking one for the team. Out comes the yellow.
16 min: Palace are giving away a lot of free kicks in their own half. Now it’s Ward, high-kicking Abraham out on the left wing. Chelsea do nothing with the set piece, but Palace can’t keep doing this. Someone will be going in the book sooner rather than later.
14 min: Willian curls a fantastic free kick over the wall, up and back down towards the top-right corner. Half of the stadium cheer, convinced the ball’s gone in, but it’s inches wide of the right-hand post. And Guaita had it covered in any case. A highly decent effort, though.
13 min: James is brought down by McArthur as he teases the Palace man down the inside-right channel. This is a free kick in a dangerous position. Willian fancies this.
12 min: Willian strides at great pace down the middle of the park. He slips the ball wide left for Pulisic, who enters the box and sends Ward sliding off in the Puskas-Wright style with a cute pullback. For a second it looks as though we’ll be witnessing a goal for the ages, but his next touch takes him too close to Guaita, who can smother. What skill, though. And what a pacy no-nonsense attack. Chelsea are very good to watch.
10 min: Mount nicks the ball off Kouyate and is immediately hacked down by Milivojevic for his cheek. A free kick out on the left, and a chance for Chelsea to load the box. Mount takes himself, and it’s a poor delivery, aimless and without pace. Palace clear this set piece as well.
9 min: Willian tears past Van Aanholt out on the right, and earns a corner off McArthur. He takes it himself. Abraham tries to get a header on target, but the ball skims off the top of his head. Palace clear.
7 min: Pulisic glides in from the left and takes a shot from distance. It dribbles wide of the left-hand post. Guaita had it covered.
6 min: Willian, captain for the day, goes on a dribble down the right. Some fancy footwork. He’s going nowhere this time, but Chelsea appear to be in a buoyant mood. Five league wins in a row, who can blame them?
4 min: Some possession in the midfield for Chelsea. Palace haven’t had a sniff yet. “Cakes sent to the soldiers in the trenches were normally egg free due to rations, and contained vinegar to help the cake to rise,” notes James Ellis, while contemplating the remembrance spread laid on in the press room. “I hope it’s at least authentic.” Wishing discomfort on a room of freeloading football journalists? Who could countenance such a thing? Ah.
2 min: The corner’s cleared without too much fuss. But what a statement of intent from Chelsea, who have got the hang of show-business rather quickly under Frank Lampard.
And we’re off! Chelsea are immediately on the front foot, and within 15 seconds Pulisic is on the edge of the Palace box looking for a chance to shoot. He can’t get one away, but Kovacic has a go instead. It’s blocked. Then James whips in a cross from the right, forcing Guaita to tip over for the first corner of the match.
The teams are out! Chelsea wear their famous royal blue, while Palace are in third-choice white with Team of the Eighties sash. It’s a fine atmosphere at Stamford Bridge, hopefully everyone’s enjoyed their lunch, whether in solid or liquid form. It’s a dreich day in west London, but hopefully Frank’s Freewheelers will bring the sunshine, one way or another. A blast of the Liquidator. A couple of Chelsea pensioners take to the field as Stamford Bridge remembers. We’ll be off in a minute.
Roy Hodgson speaks ahead of his 300th match in a Premier League dugout. “It doesn’t get easier, but it doesn’t get harder. The job is the same and it’s a job I love doing. I’m proud to have 300 Premier League games, it’s not easy to rack up that number. It’s a good day, but to make it a really good day it’s got to be a good performance for the Crystal Palace team, and hopefully some points to take home to Selhurst Park.”
Frank Lampard reflects on the wild and wonderful Ajax match. “I enjoyed it. Fans come to be entertained and it was an entertaining match, for good and for bad. I think it was more good for us, because of the spirit showed, but we must turn our heads to this game. It’s a tough match going into the international break. I’ve got a lot of respect for Roy Hodgson and they’re good on the road. It’s going to be tough and we need to be on it.”
There will be a minute’s silent reflection before kick-off in honour of the fallen. The lucky denizens of the press room will be able to show their gratitude for the ultimate sacrifices of generations past via the medium of sponge cake, because this is a thing now. The ration book is a nice period touch, and could be construed as acid comment on Chelsea’s transfer ban.
N’Golo Kante is back for Chelsea! He’s one of three changes to the XI named for the absurd eight-goal thriller with Ajax. Also in: Emerson and young midweek hero Reece James. Club captain Cesar Azpilicueta puts his feet up on the bench, while Jorginho (suspension) and Marcos Alonso (poor form) drop out altogether. Mason Mount passed a late fitness test on his ankle.
Palace make just the one change to the team named for the 2-0 defeat to Leicester last Sunday. Andros Townsend is back from injury and replaces Jeffrey Schlupp. James McArthur keeps his place despite a back problem.
Chelsea: Arrizabalaga, James, Tomori, Zouma, Emerson, Kante, Kovacic, Willian, Mount, Pulisic, Abraham.
Subs: Christensen, Caballero, Giroud, Hudson-Odoi, Batshuayi, Azpilicueta, Gilmour.
Crystal Palace: Guaita, Ward, Tomkins, Cahill, van Aanholt, Townsend, Kouyate, Milivojevic, McArthur, Zaha, Ayew.
Subs: Dann, Hennessey, Schlupp, Benteke, McCarthy, Kelly, Riedewald.
Referee: Mike Dean (Wirral).
Chelsea are a lot of fun right now. So far this season, Frankie’s Freewheelers have been involved in a 7-1, a 5-2, a 4-2, a 4-1, a 3-2, two 2-2s and of course that wonderfully absurd 4-4 against Ajax the other night. Last weekend, were it not for Ben Foster, they could easily have beaten Watford by ten goals; as it panned out, were it not for Kepa Arrizabalaga, they’d have ended up drawing 2-2. They can just as easily ship points at home as thrash someone away. They’re making Kevin Keegan’s Newcastle look like Helenio Herrera’s Inter. Yeah, they’re a whole world of fun.
They’ve also won five Premier League matches in a row – a sequence that’s earned Lampard the manager-of-the-month award for October – so today’s visitors Crystal Palace will approach Stamford Bridge with some trepidation. The Eagles haven’t won in three, and they’ve only scored ten goals in their first 11 matches. In that sense, they’re going into the lion’s cage with neither whip nor chair.
Then again, Palace have already won at Old Trafford this season, no small feat even when Manchester United aren’t at the top of their game. And they came back from two goals down to draw at Arsenal, no small feat even when Arsenal etc., and so on, and so forth. Plus Roy Hodgson will be in a celebratory mood: it’s his 300th game as a Premier League manager. So congratulations to him for that.
Chelsea have won the last three against Palace, and everyone expects them to make it four in a row this lunchtime. Will they reclaim third place, for a few hours at least? Or will Palace frustrate another big boy on the road? We’re about to find out. It’s on!
Kick off: 12.30pm GMT.