Crystal Palace vs Chelsea: Match Preview
Following a run of seven straight defeats scoring without scoring a goal, the international break was a welcome distraction for Crystal Palace, who now face a tricky Chelsea side missing Alvaro Morata and N’Golo Kanté.
After back-to-back visits to Manchester prior to the international break, Palace recorded one shot on target, 0 goals scored and nine goals conceded in a damaging blow to their confidence. Before this, consecutive 1-0 losses against Southampton and Burnley had followed three more defeats, including a hammering by newly promoted Huddersfield Town.
These are worrying times in South London and the visit of Chelsea comes at an unwanted time with the club still awaiting their first league goal of the season and could be as far as eight points adrift at the bottom come Monday evening. Antonio Conte’s men will be Roy Hodgson’s fourth opponent since taking over from Dutchman Frank De Boer and he will be without several first team players for the game.
The Eagles face a difficult choice as to who will lead the line this weekend. With both Christian Benteke and Connor Wickham out injured until December, the likely replacement looks to be 24-year-old Freddie Ladapo, who made his Premier League debut two weeks ago at Old Trafford. Equally, winger Bakary Sako could continue up top, having started the last game there. Although he lacks experience in this position, his strong attributes may tempt the manager to stick with him this weekend.
The club will also be without loanee Ruben Loftus-Cheek, with the attacking midfielder ineligible to face his parent club. Hodgson also announced in his press conference on Friday afternoon that goalkeeper Wayne Hennessey will face a scan prior to the game having picked up a knock whilst on international duty with Wales during the week. Fan-favourite Julian Speroni is set to come in for his 360th league appearance with the club.
There is good news for the home side, however, with winger Wilfred Zaha back from injury after a six-week layoff. The midfielder will be a huge boost for the home side and the fans will be hoping that the exciting midfielder can recreate his form from last season. James Tomkins is also back fit and could go back into the side this weekend.
The champions come to South London on the back of a 1-0 home defeat to Manchester City; a difficult game for Conte’s men which saw Spanish striker Alvaro Morata walk off injured. The visitors currently sit in fourth place in the league with four wins from their first seven. Prior to the loss at home to City, Chelsea hit four away to Stoke before a very impressive away victory at Atlético Madrid in the Champions League.
The visitors have made a very impressive start away from home this season with four wins from four and with the home side conceding 17 goals already this season, the likes of Eden Hazard and Willian will be relishing coming across this nervous Palace side. Conte’s men will be without Morata, Kanté and Englishman Danny Drinkwater with the midfielder still lacking match fitness, but Brazillian centre-back David Luiz is back in the side following the end of his suspension. Cesc Fabregas is set to come in to replace Kanté, and is looking for his 50th goal in English football. Michy Batshuayi is set to come in to replace Morata.
In the last four meetings between the sides, the away side has won each time. Last season Chelsea came out on top at Selhurst Park thanks to Diego Costa’s goal in a 1-0 victory and when the two sides met again in April later that year, the Eagles made a huge step towards Premier League safety with a 2-1 victory at Stamford Bridge thanks to goals from Wilfred Zaha and Christian Benteke.
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