Chelsea return from the international break to face the bottom side in the Premier League. The Blues may have come up short against the title favourites, but they’ll expect better when they take on the team tipped for relegation. After back-to-back hammerings by the Manchester clubs, it’s hard to see Palace having that much confidence to take into this game. Will this be another straightforward win for Antonio Conte and his side?
With ambitions of retaining the Premier League title, this isn’t really a game that Chelsea can slip up in. They may be facing a Palace side who are gradually improving under Roy Hodgson, but the Eagles are making the worst start to a season in the history of the top flight. Without a point so far, or even a goal, it’s hard to see how they can possibly match up to the champions. With the league campaign getting back underway, this seems like the perfect way for Conte’s men to get the ball rolling this month, ahead of some important matches.
Team News: Blues could rotate ahead of busy week
While Chelsea are only getting back in to domestic action, they head straight into a busy fixture list. They’ve got a much bigger task on their hands than last season, when the team really only had to focus on 38 games in the league. This time around, Conte needs to shuffle his pack for three games in seven days. A crucial Champions League clash with Roma is sandwiched between their next two league games. That should give us some idea as to which competition the manager is prioritising. The Blues welcome back David Luiz from suspension, but the South American contingent could be rested after their long journey back to Cobham in midweek.
Crystal Palace have some major injury concerns here, including the absence of key man Wilfred Zaha. They are also lacking in firepower up front, with Christian Benteke and Connor Wickham both out. The fact that they’re playing Chelsea makes life even more difficult for Palace, as that rules out arguably their most impressive player so far. Chelsea loanee Ruben Loftus-Cheek has done well as a number 10, but he can’t feature against his parent club. That just makes this task much tougher for Hodgson, who has little room for manoeuvre in attack.
Crystal Palace Form
The Eagles are in terrible form coming in to this game, on the back of seven straight defeats. They’re set for a drop to the Championship after their awful start to the new campaign, as they’ve left themselves with a gap to make up after struggling for so long at he start of the campaign. To make matters worse, as said, they haven’t even managed to score a goal yet.
Palace are fighting a losing battle to stay up already, given that they’ve made such a bad start to the new season. If you include the final game of last term, they’ve now lost eight straight league matches without scoring a goal. That run has come under three managers, which makes it even more worrying. Will that form suddenly change when the Eagles host the reigning champions on Saturday? It seems unlikely to say the least.
Crystal Palace v Chelsea Head to Head
That said, Palace have previous when it comes to causing a shock against Chelsea of late. We saw that last season, as they were one of just two sides to avoid defeat at Stamford Bridge. It’s hard to think of a team who played better against Chelsea at the Bridge last term, with Palace leading early and looking dangerous throughout. However, the nature of the Palace hot seat means that they’ve made two managerial appointments since that last meeting.
- Chelsea 1-2 Crystal Palace, Apr 2017
- Crystal Palace 0-1 Chelsea, Dec 2016
- Crystal Palace 0-3 Chelsea, Jan 2016
- Chelsea 1-2 Crystal Palace, Aug 2015
- Chelsea 1-0 Crystal Palace, May 2015
- Chelsea -1 handicap – 15/13 with Ladbrokes
- Chelsea to win to nil – 23/20 with BetVictor
Chelsea come in to this game priced at 4/11 with Betfred to take the points, which shows just how much Palace are struggling. The hosts are priced at 8/1 with Bet365 to claim a win, while the draw is available at 19/5 with BetVictor. Given how poorly Palace are playing, you have to say that Chelsea don’t look that short for the points in this one. There’s a huge gulf between them at the moment, and that isn’t really reflected in the prices. However, we think there are much better value bets for this weekend’s clash than backing the straightforward Chelsea win.
Not only are Palace being beaten, but they’re being blown away by most sides they come up against. A 9-0 aggregate defeat in their trips to Manchester shows how poor they’ve been against the best in the league, while losses to Swansea, Burnley and Southampton of late have seen them cut adrift. The Eagles aren’t matching up to the sides around them, so how on earth do they expect to compete with the top sides in the league? Facing Chelsea is likely to be beyond them on current form, so we’re backing a comfortable away win. Chelsea with a -1 handicap is our tip here, at 15/13 with Ladbrokes.
We’re also going for an away win to nil, which is priced at 23/20 with BetVictor. Given that Palace are yet to score a league goal this season, we think that represents serious value. The Eagles are looking really short up front in terms of personnel, but their poor scoring run started with the big names in the team. They’re clearly not creating enough chances, and there’s also a lack of quality up front to score when they do. We think it’s worth backing the Blues to keep a clean sheet in this trip, meaning a ninth straight blank for Palace.