How Chelsea are expected to line up against Crystal Palace today

The number of absentees in the struggling Blues’ first-team squad is now up to 12 players for the upcoming all-capital showdown at Stamford Bridge, with loanee Joao Felix suspended for three games after his red card on debut at Fulham and Denis Zakaria suffering quad damage in that same game.

Ruben Loftus-Cheek may be available for a supporting role off the bench today after he stepped up his recovery from a long-term ankle injury by joining in first-team training earlier this week, with imminent new £89million signing Mykhaylo Mudryk set to watch the game from the stands after his medical. A debut for him could loom at Liverpool next weekend.

Ben Chilwell is understood to be next in line for a return for Chelsea, while the likes of Reece James, Edouard Mendy, Raheem Sterling and Wesley Fofana are all facing a few more weeks before they can make their respective comebacks. N’Golo Kante, Christian Pulisic and Armando Broja complete a lengthy injury list.

Despite defeat at Fulham, Potter’s side performed well while playing three at the back and he could opt for the same system again this afternoon. Marc Cucurella would be drafted in at left centre-back to allow Lewis Hall to continue at wing-back after a positive display at Craven Cottage.

Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang is likely to start his first Chelsea match since October, having been left on the bench at Fulham despite his side desperately chasing a late equaliser.

Predicted Chelsea XI (3-4-3): Kepa; Koulibaly, Thiago Silva, Cucurella; Azpilicueta, Kovacic, Jorginho, Hall; Havertz, Aubameyang, Mount.

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