Crystal Palace’s legendary goalkeeper Julian Speroni is set to return to goal for the Eagles ahead of the visit of London rivals Chelsea this weekend.
The Argentinian great has barely featured in a league game for Palace in recent seasons after Wayne Hennessey regained the gloves from Steve Mandanda’s ill-fated stint in the Eagles goal last season. At the age of 38, Speroni is well past his best years but would still lift the depleted mood surrounding Selhurst Park at the minute.
Palace’s number one Hennessey was injured in the final seconds of Wales’ 0-1 defeat to Republic of Ireland in Cardiff on Monday. An extremely unpopular choice in goal, the former Wolves goalkeeper has come under severe scrutiny for his poor performances in the majority of his three-and-a-half year spell in South London. Speroni would offer a sense of sentimentalism if anything in what will be a near-impossible task for Palace against the Premier League champions.
Chelsea, however, will be without star players N’Golo Kante and Alvaro Morata after the duo sustained injuries in respective international qualifiers and previous league matches. Brazilian defender David Luiz is set to return after serving his suspension and will likely come in for Danish centre-back Andreas Christensen. Eden Hazard notched a brace for his country in Belgium’s 4-0 win over Cyprus during the break, and should be back at peak fitness levels anytime soon.
Palace, on the other hand, will be sweating on the fitness of their star man and modern-day cult hero Wilfried Zaha. Like Speroni, his return would at least offer a welcome boost to the Eagles faithful who are still yet to see their side score or pick up a point this season.
It will be a difficult task for Palace in their current predicament, so despite the return of two legends, it will still most likely be a Chelsea win. We may knock on the door and give them a game, but we know Palace only play for spells in a match. Over 90 minutes, Chelsea will have too much. Prediction – 0-2