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Chelsea are back in action on Wednesday as they prepare for a festive all-London affair against Crystal Palace at Stamford Bridge. The Blues will certainly be hoping the Christmas cheer can rub off on them after a poor campaign so far, with a new year bringing renewed hopes and expectations.

The Blues sit in mid-table, despite their ambitions of pushing for European football, after a whole host of inconsistent results and performances across the first half of the season. Despite progressing to the semi-finals of the Carabao Cup last week, and earning a favourable tie, they followed that up with a defeat to Wolves on Christmas Eve.

They now host the Eagles in search of another three points to steer them in the right direction and alleviate some pressure on Mauricio Pochettino. The alternative result could see the Blues further cemented into the middle of the pack and without any sign of a long-term recovery.

We need to win,” the head coach said as he rallied his troops during the press conference. “We need to perform. We need to go one better than today. The performances from the beginning of this season have been not bad, we can’t say they’ve been very good.

“In football it’s all about having the knowledge, the quality, the set-ups, the press and the way we play (out) from the back, but then during the 90 minutes you need to compete. That is where we need to improve.”

As usual, the football pundits have come out in their droves to try and predict the upcoming fixtures and have given their thoughts on whether Chelsea will earn a huge three points or be condemned to yet more crisis. With that said, here’s a look at how some see the game going.

This game will take us to the official halfway point of the 2023-24 Premier League season: 19 down, 19 to go.

If we manage to win, we will have 25 points, and thus be on pace for 50 — six points better off than last season’s historic(ly bad) campaign. If we don’t win, we will be on pace for 44, matching last season’s total. One extra win per half-season is an improvement, technically, but not exactly a soul-stirring one.

On the plus side, we haven’t gotten worse — though, fun fact, the only time we’ve had fewer points in a 38-game Premier League season at the halfway mark was in 2015-16 (20; we had 26 last season).

Chelsea team news: Another setback thanks especially to the manner of defeat at Molineux on Sunday has left us in a rut once again, going nowhere fast nor anytime soon — though we have managed to put together a decent run of results at home: five unbeaten, with three wins and two draws, including the entertaining 4-4 against Manchester City and the dramatic 1-1 against Newcastle United in the League Cup that was settled in our favor on penalties. We have a good chance to keep that streak going as some semblance of consistency, with no good team on the home slate until the spring.

Of course, expecting consistency from this team about anything other than inconsistency or injuries may be a futile endeavor. And I only say “may” to retain at least a shred of possibly faux optimism.

Speaking of injuries, Enzo Fernández will miss his second straight after going nearly all of 2023 without missing a game and Lesley Ugochukwu’s back on the injury list after his hamstring gave out an hour into a forced start due to Moisés Caicedo’s absence through illness on Sunday. Caicedo should be back at least.

It’s gotten so bad that Chelsea didn’t even bother posting an official injury update on the official website. Apparently even the update itself is now undergoing its rehabilitation programme, just as Wesley Fofana, Reece James, Marc Cucurella, Ben Chilwell, Robert Sánchez, Carney Chukwuemeka, and Trevoh Chalobah are.

Noni Madueke and Roméo Lavia were both back on the bench on Sunday though only the former got to play — and will be needed once again as Raheem Sterling and Cole Palmer both managed to get suspended for yellow card accumulation. Picking up fifth yellows of the season for silly things like diving and kicking the ball away? Proper Chels!

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