What an interesting matchup we have this weekend. Having made a slow start to the campaign, champions Chelsea languish in mid-table with a measly four points from a possible nine, looking a shadow of the side that swept away with the title last season. Visitors Crystal Palace are a team on the up, and Alan Pardew has transformed the East Londoners from relegation fighters to a force to be reckoned with. Chelsea won their first game of the campaign on Monday against West Bromwich Albion, and Jose Mourinho will be eager to press on and march his outfit up the Premier League table. Pardew will enter this game with nothing to lose, and having seen Swansea City emerge with a point from Stamford Bridge on the opening day of the season, will fancy his side’s chances of snatching something from a venue that has served as a fortress to Chelsea for so many years.
Having emerged through the West Brom test unscathed, the Chelsea squad is close to a clean bill of health with Brazilian Oscar set to return this weekend. Such a laborious start to the season was ended with victory in the West Midlands, and it is expected that Mourinho will keep the faith with those that started that fixture.
In comparison to their hosts, it could be argued that Palace are in the midst of a mini injury crisis. With six players on the treatment table, including inspirational midfielder, Mile Jedinak, Pardew will look to others to fill the void left by the Australian. New signing Connor Wickham is expected to return after a minor rib injury, but fellow forwards Frazier Campbell and Marouane Chamakh remain unavailable for selection.
Head to Head
- The sides have faced each other on no less than 46 competitive occasions, and Chelsea comfortably lead the head to head record.
- Having recorded 22 wins since their first meeting in 1906, the Blues have dominated the fixture, with Palace claiming victory on only 9 occasions.
- Since Palace returned to the top flight in 2013, Chelsea have won on three occasions and Palace once, with their solitary win coming at Selhurst Park back in 2014.
Chelsea: Diego Costa
After scoring seven goals in his first four Premier League games last season, Diego Costa certainly made an impact after his transfer from then Spanish Champions, Atletico Madrid. This time out however, Costa has struggled, and although he has found the net once this year, his performances are nowhere near the calibre he has showed in the top flight. Jose Mourinho is not a patient man, and with the transfer window still open, Costa must start to find the net with the same regularity if he is to maintain his place in Chelsea’s starting eleven. The Brazilian born Spain international has proven he has all the attributes required to succeed in England, and will view this home tie as the perfect opportunity to regain his goal scoring touch.
Crystal Palace: Scott Dann
Taking points from Stamford Bridge is no easy feat, and requires a series of performances across the pitch. With the attacking talent on display in West London, a dominating performance from visiting centre-backs is of the upmost importance, and Palace’s Scott Dann will have to put in a strong performance if his side are to emerge with something from the Bridge. The central defender goes into the game in a rich vein of form, having found the net last week against Aston Villa, guiding his side to their second win of the season. There is no doubt that Palace have a number of exciting attacking options at their disposal, and with Dann at the helm of the defence, the club have an excellent chance of not only scoring goals, but also keeping them out.
Chelsea’s only other home game of the season resulted in a 2-2 draw, whereas Palace’s only away game of the season was a 3-1 win at Norwich City. Mourinho will not want to see the same mistakes this weekend that were made in that result, and will go all out to secure the result he desires. Pardew will approach this fixture with an air of confidence, but will be fully aware of the mammoth task his side face. With that in mind, expect the home team to edge the encounter, with the possibility of a scare along the way.