Crystal Palace 0 Chelsea 1
Chelsea faced Crystal Palace on Sunday as they looked to open up a five-point gap between themselves and 5th place Arsenal.
The Blues have not been in the best form recently heading into Sunday’s game and lost their last game 1-0 vs Leicester.
Crystal Palace, on the other hand, have been on a decent run of form recently, winning two and drawing one in their last three, including a shock win over Manchester City.
However, Palace had struggled for goals this season, scoring just 17 in 19 before the Chelsea clash.
It was not to much of a surprise then that Palace created very few chances on Sunday, managing just four goal attempts in 90 minutes.
As was to be expected, Chelsea dominated possession and had the majority of the chances.
Palace’s defence would hold strong for the first 45. But a 51st minute N’Golo Kante strike would give Chelsea a deserved lead.
Olivier Giroud injured vs Palace
The game would finish 1-0 with Chelsea closing the gap on Man City and Tottenham.
However, Chelsea would be handed a big injury blow vs Palace.
Maurizio Sarri has struggled to find a regular number nine this season.
Alvaro Morata has been in poor form recently and while Hazard has adapted to playing through the middle recently, Chelsea really needed one of their strikers to step up.
Olivier Giroud was given the chance to do so on Sunday.
The Frenchman was having a decent game and did have the ball in the back of the net twice, however, both were adjudged to be offside.
Giroud’s afternoon was then cut short as he had to be brought off in the 76th minute.
— La Casa del Fútbol en Movistar+ (@casadelfutbol) December 30, 2018
Giroud appears to have suffered a left ankle injury. While the full extent of the injury is not yet known, it is likely to keep him out of action for some time.
— Nizaar Kinsella (@NizaarKinsella) December 30, 2018
This leaves Sarri with a big problem heading into the January window.
Do Chelsea need a new striker in January?
With Giroud sidelined Sarri now has just two options to play up top, Hazard or Morata.
Morata has proven over the last two seasons he is simply not good enough and with Chelsea pushing for a top-four spot, the Spaniard is unlikely to get the goals Chelsea need.
As for Hazard, he has certainly proven over the last few weeks that he can do a job as a centre-forward.
However, given the heavy schedule over Christmas and New Year, it is likely Hazard will need to be rested at some point.
Therefore, Chelsea now look as though they need to sign a striker in January.
Chelsea could recall Michy Batshuayi in January but he has also not been great since he moved to Stamford Bridge.
One player Chelsea are said to be interested in is AC Milan forward, Gonzalo Higuain.
Sarri gives update on Giroud
Maurizio Sarri has also provided an update on Giroud’s injury after Palace.
Sarri: ‘Giroud’s problem is his ankle. We have to wait for tomorrow. In the past days we were a bit unlucky. Yesterday in 10 minutes we had three injuries. Fabregas, Loftus-Cheek and Drinkwater. Then today, Giroud, and we were without Pedro and Hudson-Odoi.’#CRYCHE
— Chelsea FC (@ChelseaFC) December 30, 2018