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BETTING PREVIEW: CRYSTAL PALACE vs CHELSEA

Fresh from success at the Club World Cup, Chelsea face an important clash against Crystal Palace in the English Premier League on Saturday.

The Blues clinched their maiden Club World Cup title with a win over Palmeiras this past weekend, but attention will quickly shift to their EPL return.

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Chelsea were once well positioned at the top of the Premier League standings, but Thomas Tuchel’s team now lie third, having slipped 16 points behind runaway leaders Manchester City – albeit with one game in hand.

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Besides aiming to keep up some semblance of pressure on City and second-placed Liverpool, Chelsea will also be mindful of the fact that Manchester United are now just four log points behind them.

In fifth place, West Ham are six points adrift of Chelsea, and suddenly the battle for spots in the top four does appear to be hotting up as sixth-placed Arsenal (who have only played 22 games) also continue to surge.

Chelsea’s Club World Cup victory also came at a cost after England international Mason Mount  sustained an ankle ligament injury that is set to rule him out of action for up to three weeks.

The 23-year-old has become an integral member of the Blues squad, and has contributed seven goals and eight assists in 34 appearances this season.

However, there is some more positive news as Reece James looks to be back from a hamstring injury that forced him to miss Chelsea’s last nine games, while midfielder Ruben Loftus-Cheek has also returned to training after missing the Club World Cup due to injury.

Meanwhile, Crystal Palace will not be able to call on the services of 22-year-old Conor Gallagher on Saturday as he is club-tied, but they will likely welcome back Cheikhou Kouyate – fresh from winning AFCON with Senegal.

The last time these two teams met was at the beginning of the campaign when the Blues blew Palace taway 3-0 on the opening day of the season at Stamford Bridge.

Following Saturday’s game, Chelsea’s Champions League campaign resumes against Lille, while they then meet Liverpool in the EFL Cup final on February 27.

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