Relegation threatened Chelsea take on Crystal Palace at Selhurst Park in their first fixture of the calendar year 2016.
Guss Hiddink might have a formidable record to boast during his first spell with the Blues, but is in a different zone all together after watching his team outplayed by a Manchester Side last time out. Still looking for his first win in the third game in charge and the Dutchman wouldn’t tolerate another sloppy display from his team.
Alan Pardew is fast proving why he is the most under rated manager in England. Since taking charge at Crystal Palace exactly a year ago, he took the team from relegation zone to a tenth place finish. The good form continue throughout this season and are fifth in the standings 4 points below the Champions League spot.
Unbeaten in the last three Premier League matches, Crystal Palace will provide a tough test to Chelsea, who are yet to wake up from a long slumber.
Crystal Palace vs Chelsea : Head-to-Head Stats
It is tough to separate the two teams looking at the head-to-head table, considering Chelsea has been a dominant side in the past seasons and Palace a meager relegation fighters.
In the last five matches between the London rivals, Chelsea are victorious in three with Palace winning the other two. Interestingly, all the wins come by a one goal margin.
In the reverse fixture of the current season at Stamford Bridge, two second half goals from Sako and Joel Ward propelled Palace to a 2-1 win with Falcao scoring the consolation goal for Chelsea.
Team Form Comparison
Alan Pardew’s men are unbeaten in the last six premier league matches, with 3 draws and 3 wins to their name. While playing against the so-called top sides this season, Palace have lost 2 out of 5.
They held Man United to a stalemate; beat Liverpool and Chelsea by the same 2-1 score. While the defeats came against Manchester City and Arsenal by 1-0 and 2-1 score lines respectively.
Chelsea come into the match unbeaten in the last three, but their last win on the road was a 3-2 win over West Brom in August 2015. Seven matches since then and Blues have managed just 3 Points from a possible 21 (D3, L4).
Team News : Crystal Palace
Kwesi Appiah, Bakary Sako, Dwight Gayle, Yannick Bolasie and Connor Wickham are sidelined due to their respective injuries.
While Damien Delaney is a doubt but is hopeful to recover from the ankle injury on time before the start of the match.
The big miss for Pardew will be absence of Yohan Cabaye, who picked up his fifth booking of the campaign in the 0-0 draw against Swansea on Monday.
Jordon Mutch could replace Cabaye, while Marouane Chamakh is the only senior striker fit enough for Crystal Palace.
Crystal Palace : Predicted Line-up
Team News : Chelsea
Diego Costa will return to the starting lineup after serving his one match suspension for picking up five bookings in the season.
Falcao is injured, while Loic Remy and Gary Cahill are both doubts.
Cesc Fabregas is expected to be fit in time to start after missing the 0-0 draw with Manchester United due to a fever.
Chelsea : Predicted Line-up
Crystal Palace vs Chelsea : Prediction
Chelsea have struggled to get results on the road this season after winning just one in nine outings. The defensive tactics deployed in the 0-0 draw with Manchester United, is an understatement of the confidence in the team.
Hiddink could use similar tactics against Crystal Palace as he might be wary of their counter attacking prowess. Moreover, this Palace side has struggled against teams that sit deep in their own half.
With the current injuries to Alan Pardew’s side, Chelsea have a good chance of ending their losing streak on the road on Sunday if they take their chances properly.
At the same time, the Blue’s must keep things tight at the back because this Palace side don’t need many chances to score.
I can see a draw written all over it and tactically this is a clash of similar styles – Counter Attack vs Counter Attack.[interaction id=”568680153a731d3e71a29638″]