Chelsea face Crystal Palace at the very ground where they suffered a heartbreaking loss to derail their title challenge a couple of seasons ago. The same team has gone on from strength to strength since then and haven’t looked back with their extraordinary appointment of Pardew and acquisition of Yohan Cabaye. They had defeated Chelsea at the bridge in the dawn of the season with a 3-1 win with Falcao scoring his only goal for the season in the said match. Since then Chelsea have improved while Crystal Palace have gone off the boil and it will be an intriguing encounter between the London teams. Chelsea are currently strugling at 14th place in the table while Crystal Palace hold a lofty 5th position and are expected to strengthen in this upcoming transfer window in a all in or bust approach to try and push for a top 4 or top 6 at the least, as a precursor to European adventures for the Eagles.

Team News

For Chelsea, there is only the absence of Falcao to contend with for the interim manager. Cahill is also out with a knock but the availability of Zouma makes that absence irrelevant for the Blues. The relatively clean bill of health is definitely going to be a boon for the Dutch tactician.

Meanwhile for Crystal Palace, Sako and his replacement, Bolasie both are out for the match while Cabaye is suspended for this crucial clash. These developments are going to be a huge detriment to the Eagles and the injuries will be a big test to the team on the chase for European glory.

Expected Lineups

Crystal Palace:

Hennessey | Souare, Delaney, Dann, Ward | Ledley, Jedinak | Zaha, McArthur, Puncheon | Chamakh

In a standard 4-2-3-1 formation.

Chelsea:

Courtois | Rahman, Terry, Zouma, Azpilicueta | Matic, Mikel, Fabregas | Hazard, Costa, Willian

In a standard 4-3-3 alignment.

 

Key Battles:

Azpilicueta vs Zaha

It has been a common sight to see Chelsea losing the opposing wingers with lackadaisical play and ending up a goal down with a tap in or header from the striker. Also, it has been a common sight to see Azpilicueta just own his wing and shut off the opponent winger. This will be an intriguing battle for the neutral as it would be the most important aspect of Eagles’ play. Zaha has not been at his consistent best lately and has been underwhelming for the fans since he moved back from Manchester United to the London club but has shown he has an appetite for big games as he scored the side’s only goal in the same fixture last year.

Costa vs Delaney

Last time Chelsea visited the Eagles, Delaney was in a terribly bad mood. He had been furious at the referee for calling a foul, from which Chelsea scored and then gave away an amazing opportunity for the Eagles as they were a man up only to lose a player themselves and turn it into a ten man a piece contest. Meanwhile Costa is getting back to form and is a known hard man. He has time and again proven to be the provocator and has had Gabriel dismissed over the opening stages with his taunts. Will Delaney lose his temper once again to be red carded by the referee or will he be a foil to the Chelsea man’s sudden resurgence and cotain him with authority? Costa would be expected to give this centre half a hard time if he is anywhere near his big bruising burly self.

Betting Odds:

Crystal Palace: 4.00

Draw: 3.50

Chelsea: 2.05

Prediction:

Crystal Palace 1-3 Chelsea

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