Selhurst Park, London
Saturday, 18th October; 1500GMT
As the Premier League returns to action after the last international break of the year, Chelsea make the cross-town trip to Selhurst Park hoping to continue the fantastic start to the season.
The Eagles come into this match on the back of an indifferent start to the season, having won just two matches out of the 7 they have played so far. A John Terry own goal helped Palace beat Chelsea last season, a game which in many ways started their revival to help them stay up. A lot of things have changed since then with crowd favourite Tony Pulis getting the sack and ex-manager Neil Warnock taking charge at Selhurst Park. The Eagles faithful will just hope that their stay in the Premier League is confirmed sooner this time around.
Chelsea have been the team to beat this season, which is why they remain the only unbeaten team so far. The Blues’ players have clocked the most air miles of any team in the Premier League, a fact which will have definite bearing on this match. Given Mourinho’s penchant for rotation and the huge squad at his disposal, the Portuguese manager will be looking to give his fringe players a chance.
Team news and tactics
The only injury worry for Warnock’s team is the injury sustained by Scott Dann which rules him out of this game. Apart from that, he has an entire squad to pick from.
The Eagles will line up in a 4-5-1 with Mile Jedinak sitting in front of the back four. Frazier Campbell is expected to lead the line in attack with Yanik Bolasie and Jason Puncheon providing crosses for him from the wings. The formation could easily change to a 4-3-3 when attacking and given this is a home match and a derby, Palace will look to attack more often than not. Their hopes will be pinned on the front three to provide the goals as Campbell has looked in decent touch this season. Another possibility of playing Dwight Gayle up front cannot also be ruled out.
The home team will look to repeat last season’s heroics but know that this will be even more difficult this time around. Chelsea have improved greatly in every part of the field and it will be tough to break them down even when playing at home.
Possible lineup (4-3-3): Speroni (GK); Ward, Delaney, Mariappa, Kelly; Jedinak, Ledley, McArthur; Bolasie, Puncheon, Campbell
The Blues have no real injury concerns but travel fatigue must be taken into account when Mourinho picks his starting eleven for this match. Diego Costa started both his matches for Spain and is a major doubt to start again. Thibaut Courtois has also recovered from his concussion as was evident when he played in Belgium’s colours.
Chelsea will line up in a 4-2-3-1 formation with the ever-impressive Nemanja Matic and in-form Cesc Fabregas shielding the back four. Eden Hazard and Andre Schurrle, both of whom have recovered from their injuries, will be expected to line up from the start. The striker position is looking likely to be filled by Loic Remy at the start and if required Costa could come on as a substitute. The rest of the team is expected to be the same as the previous match against Arsenal.
That match against Arsenal co-incidentally preceded this match in the 2013-14 season as well. The infamous 6-0 drubbing given to the Gunners last season was immediately followed by a 1-0 defeat at Selhurst Park, which will be fresh in the minds of the players.
Possible lineup (4-2-3-1): Courtois (GK); Azpilicueta, Terry, Cahill, Ivanovic; Matic, Fabregas; Hazard, Oscar, Schurrle; Remy
Player to watch out for
Nemanja Matic (Chelsea)
Often the unsung hero of Chelsea’s matches this season, Matic is an expert at doing the dirty work. While his midfield partner Fabregas has been grabbing the headlines, the Serb does not mind staying under the radar. His importance is shown also by the fact that he has played every minute of Chelsea’s season so far. Mourinho also recently described him as a “complete midfielder” owing to his excellent distribution ability and an eye for goal too.
- A total of 7 goals and 9 assists racked up by Costa and Fabregas respectively is just one short of the tally of the entire Crystal Palace team.
- Palace have only scored 3 goals at home this season while Chelsea have scored 10 away for home already.
- Both teams have an equal number of tackles won so far this season – 120 each.
Crystal Palace 0 – 2 Chelsea
The stats suggest an easy win for Chelsea and it should be so. The Blues will be wary of the result last season and hope they do not repeat it this time around.