Chelsea travel across London to face Crystal Palace on Tuesday night, as they look to record back to back victories in the Premier League. The race for the top four is heating up and they will know that their position in it is far from secure. For the home side, they have little to play for with their top flight status secure, but Roy Hodgson will want them to perform better over the coming weeks. A run of poor form at the end of a season can bleed into the following one and the experienced manager will know that.
Crystal Palace have managed to establish themselves in the top flight for a number of years, but supporters will be hoping for more progression over the next 12 months. The board decided to renew Hodgson’s contract, which shows the faith that they have in him. However, there are some that believe that he has taken them as far as he can. They have now lost three in a row and failed to score in any of them. Their confidence will be low going into the match against Chelsea.
Frank Lampard knows that he needs to clinch Champions League qualification, especially if 5th place will be good enough. Roman Abramovich looks set to back his manager in the transfer market with more arrivals set to follow Timo Werner and Hakim Ziyech. There has been inconsistency this season as shown over the past week. They were very poor against West Ham and they need to eradicate those performances. The top four is the aim this season, but the board will want more over the coming years. Lampard needs to show that he is the manager to deliver progression.
Crystal Palace haven’t scored in three successive Premier League. Against Leicester City, they had a single shot on target.
Chelsea have scored two or more goals in nine of their last ten Premier League matches.
The Crystal Palace goalkeeper has been excellent this season and he has established himself as one of the best outside of the top six. The South London club may struggle to keep hold of him long term, as he stands out as a very accomplished goalkeeper. At the age of 33, he could be an excellent number two at one of the top six clubs. The Spaniard will need to be at his best on Tuesday if his team are to have any chance of taking something from the game. Chelsea will be dominant and they will get chances. Against Leicester, he made a mistake that led to a goal. The pressure will be on him to bounce back with a good performance at Selhurst Park.
It has been a period of revival for Olivier Giroud as he has managed to get back into Frank Lampard’ plans. In the eyes of many supporters, he is currently the best choice to lead the line. He brings more to the attacking output, as he can threaten the goal and brings others into the game. His link up play with Christian Pulisic and Willian in recent weeks has been excellent. The Frenchman now has three goals in his last five Premier League matches, underlining the hot streak he is showing in front of goal. Against Watford, he was a constant threat, managing to take six shots during the match. He will be vital in delivering Champions League football.
Martin Kelly, Jeffrey Schlupp and James Tomkins are all missing for the home side. Wilfried Zaha, Jordan Ayew and Christian Benteke could all start.
N’Golo Kanye is a doubt for the visitors with a minor thigh strain. Mateo Kovacic is expected to miss out, while Fikayo Tomori is nearing a return.
The recent form shown by Crystal Palace suggests that they know they have little to play for and they are winding down for the year. That can’t be said for Chelsea, who know that they can’t afford to slip up in the race for Champions League football. Palace can be tough to break down in matches like these, but they are hampered without supporters in the stadium. That could be very noticeable on Tuesday. The visitors should be able to take the points.
Crystal Palace 0-2 Chelsea