On April first, Chelsea host Crystal Palace at Stamford Bridge as the Blues attempt to continue their march towards the Premier League title.
Chelsea come out of the international break leading the league by 10 points with 10 matches left to play. They have a nearly insurmountable lead and it would be a huge shock if they did not win the Premier League at this point. But they still need to take care of business and win the games they are supposed to win. They can continue to do that by beating relegation threatened Crystal Palace.
Crystal Palace are near the other end of the table. The Eagles lie just four point above the relegation zone, though their situation has improved substantially in the past month. After a loss to Stoke City on match day 25, they were second from bottom. Since then they have won their last three matches with three consecutive clean sheets. Despite their good recent form, Palace are now going into an incredibly difficult run of fixtures and will need to hope they can steal some points against top teams, like Chelsea.
Chelsea have some injury issues to deal with for the first time all season. Eden Hazard, Thibaut Courtois, Diego Costa, Victor Moses, and John Terry are all doubts going into the weekend, according to Physioroom.com. The Blues’ team could look different if those players are unable to pass fitness tests for Saturday.
Palace also have more than their fair share of injuries. Loic Remy, James McArthur, Mathieu Flamini, and Patrick Van Aanholt are all doubts, according to Physioroom.com. On top of those doubts, Steve Mandanda, Jonathan Benteke, Pape Souare, and Connor Wickham are all out.
Chelsea’s resurgence has been headlined by the performances of Costa, Hazard, and N’Golo Kante, but other players have found their role in Antonio Conte’s 3-4-3 and thrived. One of those players has been Pedro. After starting the season behind Willian in the pecking order, the Spaniard is now on of the first names on the team sheet and has delivered with some serious goal production. The 29 year old has registered seven goals and seven assists in 1516 minutes. In other words, Pedro has contributed to a goal every 108 minutes this season.
Crystal Palace: Christian Benteke
Palace have found some form recently, but it has been more in-spite of Christian Benteke than because of him. The Belgian has not scored or assisted a goal since January 31st against Bournemouth. Benteke was Palace’s big signing of the summer and he has done reasonably well scoring nine goals, but, if Palace are going to avoid relegation, they’re going to need their big Belgian signing to step up and start scoring again.
Chelsea have been beating the teams that they’re “supposed to beat” all season and it’s hard to see anything other than that happening on Saturday. Even with Palace finding some form, Chelsea will likely be too much for their south London neighbours.
Prediction: 2-0 Chelsea