Chelsea are facing Crystal Palace on Sunday knowing that a win will see them crowned as Premier League Champions 2014/15. Although they have led the league for almost the entire time, it will be a great achievement if they do clinch the crown in front of their home fans at the weekend. It will be Jose Mourinho’s second trophy since returning to Chelsea and he will want to add plenty more to that. They have built an excellent team which is capable of winning plenty more trophies domestically and challenging in Europe. Meanwhile, Crystal Palace have secured their place in the top flight and will want to go to Stamford Bridge to keep their fellow Londoners waiting for another week to be crowned champions.
The league leaders have been the standout side this season and deserve to be win the title this weekend. Although some pundits will play down Chelsea’s successes due to the lack of competition they have faced. No other side has looked capable of beating Chelsea to the trophy, but that doesn’t make the Blues’ campaign any less impressive. They made quality signings to strengthen weak positions in the summer and they have been pivotal in transforming Chelsea into league winners. Also the development of Eden Hazard into the best player in the league has been exciting to watch and the Belgian could now become one of the best players in the world over the coming years.
Crystal Palace have been excellent under Alan Pardew with any fears of relegation going in February. However, they have dipped recently after successive defeats and Pardew won’t want to take bad form into next season. They will want to finish strongly and push for a top half finish. Palace are only two points behind Everton who are currently in tenth and the Eagles will be keen to keep on Everton’s tails this weekend with a positive result at Stamford Bridge.
In their last meeting, Chelsea won 2-1, but it was a close game which Palace could have won on another day. Oscar and Cesc Fabregas scored for Chelsea, with Fraizer Campbell scoring a late consolation for the home side. Cesar Azpilicueta and Damien Delaney both saw red cards in the match. Last season, Palace played well at Stamford Bridge, losing 2-1. Fernando Torres and Ramires got the goals for Chelsea. For Palace, Marouane Chamakh equalised after Torres’ opener.
- Cesc Fabregas is three assists away from equaling Thierry Henry’s record for most assists in a Premier League season.
- Crystal Palace have not kept a clean sheet in their last 10 Premier League matches.
Eden Hazard is coming into the match on the back of winning the PFA Player of the Year in his third season at Chelsea. In a season that Chelsea have dominated, Hazard has stood out in a team filled with quality, which highlights his rise to the top of Premier League football. He has become one of the best players in the world, but he still has a long way to go if he is to be considered in the top three alongside Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo. He has got 13 goals and 8 assists this season, this is his most productive season as a Chelsea player and he is likely to add to that tally before the season ends. Hazard will be going into this weekend wanting to be the player who makes the difference as Chelsea regain the Premier League trophy, which will be his first league title since joining the club. His ability to beat players on the dribble will be key on Saturday as Palace are very well organised and they will come to Chelsea trying to frustrate the home side. Hazard has the ability to drag defenders out of position and create space for his team-mates, and this could be key as Chelsea close in on the championship.
Yannick Bolasie has been linked with a move away from Crystal Palace this week and his future looks unclear going into the summer. Crystal Palace would receive a lot of money for the winger, who has developed into a real game-changer in the top flight. In his first season, he showed glimpses of this quality, but he is now making match-winning contributions. His pace and skill make him very difficult to stop when he is on top form. It’s dangerous for opposition players to focus on Bolasie, as both Wilfried Zaha and Jason Puncheon also have the quality to open up defences. Pardew likes to play containing football against the bigger clubs and the counter attack is crucial to his side getting any sort of success, as it’s difficult to just defend for 90 minutes. The pace of Bolasie and his ability to beat players will be central to Palace’s attacking plans this weekend. If the winger plays well at Stamford Bridge, there could be something in this game for the visitors.
Loic Remy could be set to replace Didier Drogba in the starting eleven as he closes in on a return from a calf injury. Meanwhile, first choice striker Diego Costa is still a week away from returning to the squad as Mourinho is likely to protect his frontman this weekend.
Crystal Palace could be boosted by the return of Joel Ward, Fraizer Campbell and Marouane Chamakh this weekend as they are all back in training. Jerome Thomas remains on the sidelines as the season draws to an end.
Chelsea are going into this match with a lot of determination to win the league title in front of their home fans and few would bet against them doing so. They have been unbeaten at home this season, only dropping points on three occasions in the league. Although Chelsea have been very impressive at home, Alan Pardew has a good record against Jose Mourinho and he has talked up his hopes of keeping Chelsea waiting for another week to lift the title. I think it will be a close game as Palace are very hard to break down, but Chelsea will have enough quality to win the league title this weekend.
Chelsea 2-0 Crystal Palace