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Crystal Palace

Stamford Bridge, London

Saturday, 29th August 1500 GMT

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Chelsea FC take on a dangerous Crystal Palace side on Saturday hoping to build on their win at the Hawthorns last weekend, ahead of the first international break of the season following this weekend’s round of fixtures

 

With the first victory of the season under their belt following a hard-fought win against West Bromwich Albion last weekend, Chelsea FC will be looking to take maximum points once again when they face Alan Pardew’s Crystal Palace at Stamford Bridge on Saturday afternoon.

The Blues have been anything but convincing so far, with the defence in particular coming under fire. As such, it will be yet another huge test for a Chelsea FC back four that will be without captain John Terry, following his red card at the Hawthorns last Sunday.

Crystal Palace, meanwhile, have made a solid start to their campaign– winning against Norwich City and Aston Villa and being unfortunate to lose to Arsenal at home– and lie in the fifth place in the league. The Eagles will know that Jos Mourinho’s men are vulnerable at the moment and will be looking to take advantage and cause an upset this Saturday.

Team News and Tactics

Chelsea FC

The Blues will definitely be without captain John Terry, as the Englishman serves his one-match suspension for the red card he picked up in the second half at the Hawthorns last weekend. Brazilian international Oscar and Nigerian Victor Moses are still recovering from knocks but could recover in time to be a part of the Chelsea FC squad for Saturday’s game.

The Blues confirmed the signing of Brazilian teenager Kenedy last Saturday, and the 19-year-old might be in contention for a place on the bench against Crystal Palace. Colombian international Juan Cuadrado, meanwhile, has completed his loan move to Serie A champions Juventus and will not play any further part in the 2015-2016 season for Chelsea FC.

New signing Pedro, who had an outstanding d but at the Hawthorns, is expected to continue on the right of Mourinho’s 4-2-3-1, with Willian or Oscar in the no.10 position and Belgian Eden Hazard on the left. Gary Cahill will replace compatriot John Terry in the starting line-up and will partner Frenchman Kurt Zouma in defence. The rest of the team is likely to be unchanged from the one that played the West Brom game, although Ghanaian left-back Abdul Baba Rahman should have a spot on the bench this weekend.

Although the performance last week from the Blues was anything but perfect, there were plenty of encouraging signs in attack, particularly from Spanish international Pedro. Mourinho’s men will once again look to use the former Barcelona winger’s ability on the ball and movement off the ball to add balance to their attack– something that paid dividends at the Hawthorns with Pedro creating chance after chance from the right wing.

The Spaniard’s presence on that flank should also help curb the attacking instincts of Pape Souar , who has looked to help the likes of Wilfried Zaha and Jason Puncheon in the attacking third.

Playing at home, Chelsea FC are likely to continue with a double-pivot of Cesc F bregas and Nemanja Mati in an attempt to control the ball and the tempo of the game in general. The presence of Oscar could be of great help towards that end, as also in terms of protecting the pivot with his defensive work-rate and intelligent pressing.

John Terry’s absence, in some ways, might turn out to be a blessing in disguise, as the two quicker defenders in Cahill and Zouma could allow the Chelsea FC defensive line to play slightly further up to deny the likes of Puncheon, Zaha and Yannick Bolasie time on the ball in the attacking third.

In what will be manager Jos Mourinho’s 100th match in charge of Chelsea FC at Stamford Bridge, the Blues will be looking to put in a performance worthy of the occasion.

Possible starting line-up: Courtois; Ivanovi (C), Cahill, Zouma, Azpilicueta; F bregas, Mati ; Hazard, Willian, Pedro; Diego Costa

Crystal Palace

Manager Alan Pardew will definitely be without captain Mile Jedinak, who has been ruled out of the game on Saturday with a hamstring injury. Yannick Bolasie missed the match against Aston Villa due to the passing away of his father, but could make a return at Stamford Bridge after indicating his readiness to rejoin the team.

Goalkeeper Julian Speroni has recovered from his hand injury, but Alex McCarthy has been in good form between the sticks for the Eagles and is expected to retain his place in the side. There are unlikely to be changes in the back four, although Pardew might add a central midfielder, possibly Joe Ledley, to augment the pivot of Yohann Cabaye and James McArthur in an attempt to congest the midfield and make it difficult for Chelsea FC to play through the middle.

The Eagles’ greatest weapons, however, are undoubtedly the likes of Zaha, Puncheon, Bolasie and even Bakary Sako, who had an excellent game at Selhurst Park last weekend. The pace and power of Pardew’s attacking midfielders will be a threat to the Blues, particularly in counter-attacking situations.

Chelsea FC right-back Branislav Ivanovi has had a tough start to the season, and the likes of Zaha and Bolasie are unlikely to allow him a reprieve either. They are exactly the type of players against whom the Serbian has struggled– fast, tricky wingers who have the ability to simply put the ball into space and beat Ivanovi with their speed.

As such, the Blues’ midfield will have to provide enough protection for the defence, and Spaniard Pedro will have to do his bit to protect the man behind him. The Blues’ have also been unconvincing when defending set-pieces so far this season, and Palace could use that to their advantage with Yohan Cabaye at hand to deliver quality corners and free-kicks.

Pardew’s men have nothing to lose and should make it a very interesting battle at Stamford Bridge on Saturday afternoon.

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Possible starting line-up: McCarthy; Ward, Dann, Delaney (C), Souar ; Cabaye, McArthur; Sako, Puncheon, Zaha; Murray

Key Facts

  • Jos Mourinho will take charge of his 100th Chelsea FC game at Stamford Bridge. The Portuguese has lost just one of 99 so far.
  • The game on Saturday will also be Mourinho’s 200th in the Premier League. No manager would have won more points (453 in 199 matches so far) in as many games.
  • Crystal Palace have won an incredible 7 out of 9 away league games since Alan Pardew’s appointment, including their only away game so far this season at Carrow Road.
  • The last game Chelsea FC kept a clean sheet in, was the title-winning fixture at Stamford Bridge last season, with the Blues winning 1-0.
  • Since Alan Pardew took over, Crystal Palace have scored more goals from set-pieces than any other Premier League team, a total of sixteen.

Player to watch

Pedro

West Bromwich Albion vs Chelsea

The former Barcelona winger said his goodbyes to his boyhood club in a press-conference last Monday, and will now be fully focussed on building on his dream d but when he makes his first appearance as a Blue at Stamford Bridge on Saturday.

The Spanish international lit up the Hawthorns with his sharp, intelligent touches and his attacking verve, setting up several chances for his team-mates – one of which was converted by compatriot Diego Costa. The winger also scored a goal himself after exchanging passes with Eden Hazard, and that could be a partnership worth keeping an eye on, in the coming weeks.

Stamford Bridge will be delighted to give Pedro a proper welcome on Saturday, and given the difference he already seems to have made to the Chelsea FC attack, he is the man to watch when Mourinho’s men take on Crystal Palace.

Prediction

Chelsea 3 – 1 Crystal Palace

Mourinho will be doing everything he can to ensure that his side go into the international break on a positive note, and Chelsea FC should have enough fire-power to get their first home win of the season. Diego Costa’s first goal of the season would have been a huge morale-boost for the striker, and he could get on the score sheet once again on Saturday.

Crystal Palace have been good this season, and given the Blues’ vulnerable defence, it is unlikely they will be able to keep a clean sheet. Despite that, a victory is on the cards for Jos Mourinho in his 100th league game in charge at the Bridge.

Blast from the past