Crystal Palace v Chelsea
Live on Sky Sports 1
Match Odds: Crystal Palace 3.9, Chelsea 2.1411/10, The Draw 3.55/2.
The first London derby of 2016 sees Chelsea travelling east to Selhurst Park, to face a Crystal Palace side boasting the Premier League's joint-longest unbeaten run, having recorded three wins and three defeats in their last six matches.
With Guus Hiddink still searching for his first win in his second spell with Chelsea, this could be another difficult game for the defending champions.
Palace have drawn their previous two games 0-0, however, which summarises the fact that their usual counter-attacking gameplan has been ruined by a shortage of attacking options because of injury. Bakary Sako, Dwight Gayle and Yannick Bolasie are all unavailable here, while Yohan Cabaye's suspension for collecting five yellow cards - just before the new year amnesty - is a significant blow too. Palace will still be organised, but do they boast enough attacking spark?
Alan Pardew also has a concern in defence, where Damien Delaney faces a late fitness test. Brede Hangeland is on standby, and while he'd relish a physical battle against Diego Costa, he won't want to have his pace tested regularly.
Pardew is likely to field Jordon Mutch just behind Marouane Chamakh, with Jason Puncheon and Wilfried Zaha out wide. The front two are unlikely to expose the Chelsea backline's clear shortage of speed, but the two wingers can turn defence into attack quickly, especially if Chelsea's full-backs push forward more than we're accustomed to under the new regime.
Hiddink is likely to field a familiar Chelsea side with both Eden Hazard and Costa available again, while Cesc Fabregas will probably start in his deeper midfield position alongside Nemanja Matic, with Oscar as the number ten. Hiddink decided to play it safe with John Obi Mikel alongside Matic for the 0-0 draw at Manchester United, but two defensive midfielders is surely unnecessary against a side lacking genuine creativity in central positions.
Chelsea's key attacker, though, is probably Willian. Unquestionably their brightest performer this season, he'll be up against Pape Souare, a technically gifted left-back who nevertheless tends to find himself out of position rather too often for a defensive-minded side. Willian will take every opportunity to pick up the ball on the run and charge past him.
The other battle down that side, Zaha against Branislav Ivanovic, will also be interesting. The Serbian full-back has struggled against pace since being destroyed by Swansea's Jefferson Montero on the opening weekend, and will be terrified of Zaha's quick dribbling. With Matic likely to be located closer to the opposite flank, Ivanovic won't receive much help from teammates and could be readily exposed in one-against-one situations.
With a lack of creativity in central positions - unless Fabregas can suddenly rediscover his best form - this game seems likely to be decided primarily by counter-attacks and set-pieces. Palace's centre-back duo of Delaney and Scott Dann are always dangerous in these situations, with Mile Jedinak another threat, while Chelsea are also a tall side with five good headers of the ball likely to be inside the box for corners.
This feels like it could be a slow, somewhat scrappy game. Palace are the better side at the moment - 11 points ahead of Chelsea in the league tells the story - but without key attackers, they're struggling to score goals.