Following a defeat and an awful display at Manchester City on Sunday, Chelsea should be worried about their meeting with Crystal Palace on Saturday. Not only did the Blues lose away to the Eagles earlier this season, but Palace have been tricky opposition for Chelsea in recent years. Having fallen even further off the pace in the top four race, the last thing Antonio Conte’s side need right now is to come up short against a side in the bottom three. Could Palace spring a surprise, or will the hosts return to form?
Chelsea have spectacularly blown a strong position in the Premier League to find themselves lying in fifth place in the table. They’re having a tough time keeping pace with Tottenham, while Manchester United and Liverpool are streets ahead of the reigning champions right now. Conte clearly sees a gulf between his side and the elite, given the conservative way he lined his side up for their weekend trip to the Etihad. Can the Italian turn things around with a more positive approach this week? At this point, three points should really be all that he’s focused on, because the Blues really need to get some form together.
Team News: Conte Needs Style Change Following City Slump
Of course, there’s no excuse for Chelsea being so reserved against any Premier League rival. Not only have we seen attacking sides get more joy against City, but the Blues’ squad should never be so pedestrian and sheepish. The Italian needs to make some sort of change for this clash, even just in the approach he takes. While going with the 3-4-3 formation once again wouldn’t be a huge problem, a tactical shake-up might be key given how the team have been playing of late. It might be a quick-fire way to wake this team out of their slumber.
Palace have some big injury concerns coming into this game, with Chelsea loanee Rueben Loftus-Cheek among their 10 unavailable players. Mamadou Sakho, Yohann Cabaye and Scott Dann are among their experienced names who miss out, which leaves Roy Hodgson with some selection issues. Their defence should be an issue, with four players missing going into a difficult trip for the relegation-battling side. Palace have been sticking with a 4-4-2 set-up lately, and they’re unlikely to change that approach.
Crystal Palace Form
Palace made the worst ever Premier League start, yet they still managed to bounce up in to mid-table by January when they beat Burnley. However, that was their last win. The Eagles are winless in six going in to this trip, and they have been sucked straight back in to trouble after those poor results. They’re now 18th in the table, and they’re heading for the Championship once again if they can’t arrest this slump.
The question now is did Hodgson actually make a difference, or did the change just spark them temporarily in to life. There’s little time for the Eagles to make another sacking, so they need to end their poor run. Putting an end to a run of two wins in 18 away trips would also be helpful for the Eagles’ survival hopes.
Chelsea v Crystal Palace Head to Head
Recent meetings between these two teams haven’t gone all that well for Chelsea. The Blues lost in a shock defeat in this fixture last season, while the Eagles won here in their first trip to the Bridge following Chelsea’s last title win. This has been a fixture which Antonio Conte hasn’t quite adapted to, and after the Palace display on Monday night you’d have to wonder if the visitors will pose a threat once again.
- Crystal Palace 2-1 Chelsea, Nov 2017
- 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
- Both Teams to Score – 11/10 with Coral
- Alvaro Morata to score first – 29/10 with BetVictor
Despite Chelsea’s troubles, the Blues are priced up as 2/7 favourites with Betfred. Meanwhile, struggling Palace are out at 10/1 with Ladbrokes to pull off another win at Stamford Bridge, which might actually be a little too big given their head to head record against the champions. You can back the visitors to get a point at 22/5 with BetVictor. With Palace winning 2-1 in three of their last five meetings with Chelsea, Betfair are offering 30/1 for that to happen once again. However, we can’t see the Eagles doing that well given their results of late.
That being said, the visitors should still be able to get a goal at Stamford Bridge. This Chelsea defence hasn’t been up to scratch of late, while the Eagles have shown some decent attacking form. They hit their first goals of the season against Chelsea in that 2-1 win earlier this term, and they continued to excite going forward in Monday night’s meeting with Manchester United. Their two goals in that game continued their scoring form, as they’ve found the net in 13 of their last 15. Having scored in seven straight matches on the road, we’re backing them to fire past the Blues’ defence. Both teams to score here, which is available at odds 11/10 with Coral.
Chelsea have attacking threats of their own, and we think one of them will come roaring back to form this weekend. While Alvaro Morata has enjoyed a tough spell at Stamford Bridge at times, this seems like the perfect game for him. Palace have struggled defending out wide, which should allow opportunities for the wing-backs and attacking midfielders to get crosses in. Given that just three sides have conceded more headed goals than Palace this term, Morata should have a chance of making a difference here. We think he’ll get the nod up front in an attacking change from Conte, and as a result we’re backing Morata to score first at 29/10 with BetVictor.