Chelsea return to action following the international break and they’ll be eager to get another win under their belt as they seek to win the title as soon as possible. The Premier League leaders take on Crystal Palace at Stamford Bridge, with the Eagles just hitting form.
While the Blues have been lucky to avoid injuries all season, they are going to have to deal with a number of players returning from all corners of the globe with varying levels of fatigue. Can Antonio Conte deal with that, and lead his men to another crucial league victory? They’ll be hoping to extend their 10 point lead at the summit of the table.
Palace have seen their results pick up under Sam Allardyce, which makes this a tricky game for Conte and co. On the bright side, they do have a 13 game winning run at their own ground to back them up. That’s a run of victories which has taken them top of the table and into an FA Cup semi-final. With the sides below them facing some tough matches this weekend, this is a must win clash for Chelsea. Can they claim some revenge for their loss to the Eagles in their last visit to this ground?
Team News: Conte faces selection worries after international break
Eden Hazard is Chelsea’s only absentee at the minute, as the winger missed the international break through injury. He was unable to meet up with the Belgium squad, facing a couple of weeks on the side-lines. That was after Hazard missed the Blues’ last match against Stoke. In addition to the Belgian, Conte is going to have concerns over a couple of his international stars. Diego Costa and Pedro were both away with Spain, while Willian linked up with Brazil. Keeping a stable team has been key to Conte’s side this term, but they may have a few stars coming in to this game struggling for fitness.
Palace are without a few players ahead of this trip to Stamford Bridge. Loic Remy, on loan at Selhurst Park from Chelsea, is unavailable for this clash. Mathieu Flamini, Connor Wickham and Pape Souare are all set to miss out. The Eagles set up with a 4-2-3-1 against Watford last time out. Despite winning that clash, Palace were dominated in possession. They can expect a similar sort of game away to the best side in the division, so that formation might just cause problems this weekend.
Crystal Palace Form
Crystal Palace have moved out of the bottom three after a strong run of form. They’ve won three straight games under Sam Allardyce, moving them up to 16th in the table. The Eagles are now four points clear of the drop, with the former England boss set to complete another remarkable turnaround. They claimed back to back home wins over Middlesbrough and Watford, two sides who were in awful form coming in to clashes with the Eagles. Those were two straightforward games, although they did claim three points away to West Brom in their last trip.
That win was impressive for Palace, and it showed signs of much needed improvement from Allardyce’s team. However, travelling to Stamford Bridge is a huge step up for them to face. Wins against struggling, out of form sides isn’t going to prep them for a clash with top of the table Chelsea. Having won just two of their last 11 trips, including losing at Arsenal and Tottenham, Palace can’t hold out much hope for a result on Saturday.
Chelsea v Crystal Palace Head to Head
The Blues have a solid record against Palace, barring their home defeat in 2015. That was part of their awful title defence, which allowed plenty of sides to pull off a result at Stamford Bridge. The meeting between these two earlier this season was a real battle, with a goal from Diego Costa settling things. That clash came during the Alan Pardew reign at Selhurst Park, which ended very poorly for the Eagles. They’ve seen an improvement under Allardyce, but can that lead to another shock win?
- Crystal Palace 0-1 Chelsea, 17th Dec 2016
- Crystal Palace 0-3 Chelsea, 3rd Jan 2016
- Chelsea 1-2 Crystal Palace, 29th Aug 2015
- Chelsea 1-0 Crystal Palace, 3rd May 2015
- Crystal Palace 1-2 Chelsea, 18th October 2014
- Willian to score any time – 7/4 with BetVictor
- Chelsea to win and both teams to score – 12/5 with Coral
Chelsea come into this game as the 3/10 favourites with Betfred, so clearly the bookies aren’t predicting another win for the visitors at Stamford Bridge. The visitors are 10/1 with Ladbrokes to repeat their win here from 2015, while a draw is priced at 4/1 with Bet365. We aren’t going to back the leaders on the win market, we’re looking elsewhere for value on this clash.
While the Blues have concerns over Eden Hazard’s fitness, their trip to Stoke proved that they can survive without the Belgian. That 2-1 win at the Bet365 saw Willian score from a free kick, something which hasn’t been as common this term. The Brazilian lost his place in the team earlier in the campaign, but with Hazard missing he should get a rare start at the Bridge. Having found the net last time out, we think it’s worth backing Willian to chip in with another goal. The winger is priced at 7/4 with BetVictor to score any time this weekend.
Given the results Palace have been picking up of late, they should be confident ahead of this trip. The Eagles will be hoping to take advantage of the Blues’ poor defensive record, which has seen them concede in their last six league outings. That poor run hasn’t cost them points, as Conte’s men have enough quality to fight back after conceding. The leaders score close to three goals per game at Stamford Bridge, so we’re backing a home win and both teams to score at 12/5 with Coral.