On December 17th, Crystal Palace will host league leaders Chelsea at Selhurst Park. Both teams will have a quick turnaround after playing on Wednesday and will be desperate for the three points, but for very different reasons.
After yet another loss to Manchester United, Palace boss Alan Pardew is under immense pressure to get results. Despite a summer of singing big players like Christian Benteke and Steve Mandanda, Palace find themselves sitting only three points above the relegation zone. They’re in a relegation fight and need all the points they can get.
Chelsea are at the other end of the spectrum, top of the league and looking to extend their lead. After Arsenal’s loss on Tuesday, Chelsea extended their lead at the top of the table to six points with their 1-0 win over Sunderland on Wednesday. With Arsenal playing on Sunday and Liverpool playing on Monday, Chelsea will look to at least temporarily widen the gap at the top of the table to nine points.
Palace have been missing some of their big players this season and it looks like that will continue against Chelsea. James Tomkins and Bakary Sako have both recently picked up injuries that will keep them out until the middle of January, according to Physioroom.com. Along with those fresh injuries, Steve Mandanda, Loic Remy, Connor Wickham, Jonathan Benteke, and Pape Souare will all continue to miss out with long term injuries.
When asked if Eden Hazard’s injury that kept him out against Sunderland was serious Antonio Conte said, “I don’t think so,” but Hazard is still a doubt for the match this weekend. John Terry is also still a doubt with his lingering gluteal injury.
- There has not been a draw in any of the last 11 meetings between these two teams.
- Chelsea have won nine of the last 11 meetings, scoring three or more goals in four of those meetings.
- Chelsea have conceded 11 goals this season, tied with Tottenham for the fewest goals conceded in the league.
- Crystal Palace have conceded 12 goals in their home matches alone.
Crystal Palace: Wilfried Zaha
Palace have had a very poor season, but their one shining light has been the form of Wilfried Zaha. Zaha struggled against Manchester United, but has overall had a very good start to the season. He’s scored three goals and assisted six more in 1285 minutes, so he has contributed to a goal every 142 minutes this season. His goal contribution has been a huge part in keeping Crystal Palace above the relegation zone this season. Along with his goal contribution, he has completed more dribbles per 90 minutes (4.69) than any player that has played at least 700 minutes this season. Chelsea is a arguably the toughest team to break down in the league. Zaha’s ability to beat his man and either create a shot for himself or a teammate could be key if they have a shot against Chelsea.
Chelsea: Diego Costa
Chelsea’s defence has been fantastic, but their attack has been able to take advantage of their defence because Diego Costa has been on fire this season. The Spaniard has scored 12 non penalty goals, tied with Alexis Sanchez for most in the league. He has got back to the form that won Chelsea the title in the first half of the 2014/2015 season and, if he keeps it up, that could happen again this campaign.
Chelsea really should win this match. They’ve won 10 straight and an out of form Crystal Palace team is not the team people expect to end that run. Chelsea will likely win this one comfortably.
Prediction: 2-0 Chelsea