Conte reveals key man will play vs Palace, duo confirmed unavailable

Conte reveals key man will play vs Palace, duo confirmed unavailable

The Blues are now five points off Tottenham in fourth after going down to a dismal 1-0 defeat to Manchester City last time around.

With Spurs not playing till Sunday, Chelsea can temporarily trim the deficit between themselves and the Lilywhites to just two points if they beat relegation-threatened Crystal Palace on Saturday.

With Manchester United facing Liverpool earlier in the day, one of the Blues' rivals for a UEFA Champions League place is guaranteed to drop points.

The reigning champions lost to Manchester United and Manchester City in their last two games, but things were rather more straightforward this time around and they should have claimed a more comprehensive win over Palace given the number of chances they created. The pressure will be on both Antonio Conte and Roy Hodgson as they search for their first Premier League victory in nearly a month.

Hodgson said: "It's a shame that we didn't play the whole of the game as we played the second half".

They somehow failed to take the lead in the eighth minute, though, as Olivier Giroud's scuffed effort from close-range went straight to Wayne Hennessey. Andros Townsend, meanwhile, has been an inspirational figure for his side in recent weeks, and could be pivotal if they are to get anything at all from Stamford Bridge. His presence in the middle of the park ensures that Chelsea's creative forwards will enjoy more freedom in possession than they are used to.

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After a poor second shot, he left himself with 11 feet to save par on the seventh hole, but made the putt, remaining in the lead. But he made back-to-back bogeys at the 12th and 13th before playing the remaining five holes in 1 under.

"We must have great patience with Barkley".

"When you lose many games in a row it's not simple", Conte added. The return of key players in due course will help them start winning games against sides around them in the league.

The hosts now sit in the relegation zone but a victory on Saturday could propel them out of the drop zone and give them a little bit more hope of stay up.

Tiemoue Bakayoko could feature against the Eagles on Saturday after the midfielder returned back to Chelsea training after his injury, whilst Conte also stated that starting with one of his strikers was certainly an option.

Conte opted to play Eden Hazard in a false-nine role as the Blues lost to Manchester City last weekend but the Belgian was heavily isolated throughout.

Wilfried Zaha (knee) and Mamadou Sakho (calf) will both undergo late fitness tests but Joel Ward, Scott Dann, Yohan Cabaye, Ruben Loftus-Cheek, Jason Puncheon, Bakary Sako, Connor Wickham and Julian Speroni are all out.

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