Can Chelsea continue their title push when they travel to Selhurst Park on Saturday afternoon? The Blues are in action early this weekend, as they make the trip across London for a 12:30 kick off. Will they be able to continue an excellent run of form and keep up their push for the biggest prize available to them this season? They need to be careful, as this Palace side are desperate for points.
The Eagles are hanging around the drop zone, with boss Alan Pardew under pressure going into a busy Christmas period. Surely this is the last game that the Palace boss would want when his job is in jeopardy. Will the former Newcastle supremo be able to pick up some crucial points, or will Antonio Conte’s men continue their roaring form?
Team News: Expect changes in rare return to midweek action
Chelsea aren’t expected to have too many absentees for this weekend’s game, they are likely to miss Kurt Zouma and Marco van Ginkel once again. Both are out due to a lack of match fitness, having been injured earlier in the season. They’re both suffering from a lack of fixtures for the Blues, which restricts who gets minutes on the pitch. Making that even harder is the great form the team are in at the moment, which has seen just 13 players start in the last nine matches. How will that affect them here?
Surely there are going to be changes, having played three games in the space of a week. That’s nothing new for the club, but it isn’t something they’ve done that often this season. The Sunderland trip was just their fourth midweek clash of the campaign. We can’t see Conte sticking with the same side throughout the week, so expect a couple of changes for this clash.
Crystal Palace are without Pape Souare and Connor Wickham, who are both set to miss the rest of this season. They’re also without Loic Remy, who is on loan from Chelsea. He’s also struggling with injury, which has prevented him from playing for his new club this season. They’re likely to rely on Christian Benteke up front, but he’ll have a tough time finding space against the three centre-halves. He did manage to get a goal for Liverpool against the Blues towards the end of last season though and is a threat on his day.
Crystal Palace Form
A year ago, Palace were in excellent form, with absolutely no relegation fears whatsoever. They were pushing for a place in Europe, and they ended up in the top six. After that the Eagles dropped like a stone, and things haven’t really looked up for them since. They may have taken a 3-0 win over Southampton at home recently, but Pardew still found a way to ruin that for himself. Having accused the club’s new American investors of not knowing the game, he seems like a man sleepwalking towards the sack after those ill thought out remarks.
Last weekend saw Palace draw 3-3 with a very poor Hull side, which showed their defensive woes. That came shortly after a 5-4 loss at Swansea. Clearly this is a defence which Diego Costa and Eden Hazard could have fun against. They’ve looked every bit like a struggling side in recent weeks, and now they’re facing a hugely creative attack from one of the top sides in the league. Expect Pardew to be worrying quite a bit ahead of this clash.
Chelsea v Crystal Palace Head to Head
Chelsea opened up 2016 with a victory over Crystal Palace, can they pick up another win here towards the end of the year? Palace were one of the first sides to take advantage of the Blues’ awful season last time around, winning 2-1 at Stamford Bridge. However, the last two meetings here went in Chelsea’s favour, including a 2-1 win on their way to the 2015 title. Can they pick up another victory here to continue the push for top spot this season?
- Crystal Palace 0-3 Chelsea, Jan 2016
- Chelsea 1-2 Crystal Palace, Aug 2015
- Chelsea 1-0 Crystal Palace, May 2015
- Crystal Palace 1-2 Chelsea, Oct 2014
- Crystal Palace 1-0 Chelsea, Mar 2014
- Both teams to score – 10/11 with Bet365
- Over 2.5 Chelsea goals – 7/4 with Coral
Chelsea come into this game as 8/15 favourites with Betfred, while Palace are 6/1 outsiders with BetVictor. The Blues deserve to be favourites, they should manage to make short work of the Eagles, but how will they handle the hosts’ attack? Can their strong defensive record continue in this trip? It’s easy to see Pardew’s side making things difficult at the back. They have some tricky wingers, which is a new test for the two wing-backs.
Since playing Chelsea here, Palace have failed to score just twice in 15 league matches at Selhurst Park. The Blues are facing a tough week with three league fixtures, so it’s easy to see them being a little slow to react at the back. However, Pardew’s side have only kept three clean sheets in those 15, so a Chelsea goal seems inevitable. We’re backing both of these sides to find the back of the net, which is generously priced at 10/11 with Bet365.
A Chelsea goal here isn’t likely going to be a surprise, seeing as Palace have been struggling to keep goals out for a while now. They’ve conceded three or more in five of their last seven matches. That includes five against struggling Swansea, three at Burnley and four at home to Liverpool. This defence is clearly wide open, and the Blues have the players who can take advantage. We can see a big win for the visitors this weekend. That’s why we’re backing the Blues to hit over 2.5 goals in this trip, which is 7/4 with Coral.