After the mid-season success at the Club World Cup, Chelsea return to the regular grind this weekend.
In the Premier League, the Blues are comfortable in third position and it will be intriguing to see how Thomas Tuchel’s side tackle top-flight matches for the remainder of the season, especially with silverware up for grabs in the FA Cup, League Cup and Champions League.
On Saturday there is some local pride at stake, as Crystal Palace host the European champions in what should be an intriguing encounter.
Tuchel will want to see his side hit the ground running after their trip to the United Arab Emirates and build up some momentum ahead of Tuesday’s Champions League clash with Lille at Stamford Bridge.
Liverpool forward Diogo Jota is a major doubt for the League Cup final showdown with Chelsea.
The Portugal international was substituted at half time against Inter Milan on Wednesday and manager Jurgen Klopp confirmed that he had suffered an ankle ligament issue.
While the German said the injury “didn’t seem serious” to begin with, scans are reported to have shown a more severe problem. As such, Jota may not be fit enough to face Chelsea next Sunday at Wembley.
Although Liverpool will have a number of excellent forwards to call on, Jota has already netted an impressive 17 goals this season.
James close to return Chelsea could be boosted by the return of Reece James when they visit Palace on Saturday.
The full-back has not featured for the Blues since December 29 against Brighton & Hove Albion, during which he suffered a hamstring problem.
Without James, Chelsea have lacked a thrust on the right flank, with Tuchel experimenting with a number of different systems and personnel in an attempt to compensate for the England international’s absence.
The 22-year-old, who was part of the travelling party for the Club World Cup, has contributed four goals and five assists to the Blues’ Premier League cause.
Rooney relief at FA decision
Former Manchester United forward Wayne Rooney has shared his relief that an FA probe into his comments about wanting to “hurt” a Chelsea player has been dropped.
In the recent documentary profiling the Red Devils and England legend, Rooney said he wore longer studs for a crucial game against Chelsea in the hope of leaving something on some of his opponents.
The FA confirmed upon release of the programme that they were examining the comments from Rooney, although no action will be taken.
“It was a feeling rather than something I was acting upon,” said Rooney. “You can see me and John have gone for a tackle and that was it.
“I am happy it is over and done with. I gave my response to the FA.”
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