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Crystal Palace - Match Preview


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The Match
Chelsea travel to Selhurst Park on Saturday to face a struggling Crystal Palace side in a game that is set to kick off at 3pm UK time. The Blues will be looking to complete the league double over their opponent after winning 2-1 in the reverse fixture in mid-December through goals from Fernando Torres and Ramires.

The Eagles, however, will be desperate to stop their illustrious visitors in a bid to avoid relegation as their form have dipped of late having won none of their last 5 league games, losing 3 of them, falling to 18th and just 3 points above the drop zone. This is in stark contrast to the form prior to that five games which saw Tony Pulis’ side picked up 18 points from the 39 available under his tenure compared to just 7 from 36 points under former manager Ian Holloway, who left the club in late October.

The downturn in Palace’s form have been due to their lack of goals in recently as only one – from the penalty spot – have been scored in the last 5 matches. Pulis has spoken about the need of his side to be clinical with the chances while staying defensively solid if they are to cause an upset in this London derby and ultimately, stay up in the Premier League with just 8 games remaining.

In contrast and fresh from their 6-0 demolition of Arsenal last Saturday, Mourinho’s men will be keen to follow that up by swatting aside Palace to keep up the pressure at the top. With title rivals Arsenal and Manchester City facing each other tomorrow and Liverpool hosting Tottenham at Anfield on Sunday, the league leaders would want to pile the pressure on the others and head into their midweek Champions League game with Paris St. Germain in confident mood.

Chelsea know they cannot afford anymore slip-ups if they want to win the Premier League title in this tight race and Mourinho has warned of the difficulty of facing Crystal Palace tomorrow. “They defend well and a lot, they're direct and aggressive, strong in set-pieces. They have every quality that Pulis likes and that Pulis' teams have” said the Portuguese tactician.

Recent form and quality possessed by both teams suggest this will be a foregone conclusion but Crystal Palace will be sure to provide a stiff challenge and looking to claim at least a point. For Chelsea, they cannot afford to drop points again to a lesser side and need to be at their best to achieve victory in their final capital derby of the season.

Team News
Crystal Palace
Tony Pulis will be without the services of Maraoune Chamakh and Dwight Gayle due to hamstring and ankle injury respectively. Scottish midfielder Barry Bannan could start after returning to the side in the club’s defeat to Newcastle last weekend.

Provisional Squad: Speroni, Hennessey, Gabbidon, McCarthy, Guedioura, Dann, Mariappa, Ward, Delaney, Jedinak, Ledley, Bannan, O'Keefe, Dikgacoi, Bolasie, Puncheon, Ince, Thomas, Jerome and Murray.

Samuel Eto’o has been ruled out of the game with the hamstring injury he picked up against Arsenal while Ashley Cole remains on the sideline with a knee injury. A more positive news for Mourinho would be the return of Willian following his one game suspension but Ramires is still serving his 3-game suspension – now in his second – after his red card two weeks ago.

Provisional Squad: Cech, Schwarzer, Kalas, Ivanovic, Cahill, Terry, Luiz, Azpilicueta, Mikel, Matic, Lampard, Hazard, Schurrle, Oscar, Willian, Salah, Ba and Torres.

Stats and Facts
1. Chelsea have won 6 and drawn 3 of their 9 Premier League London derbies this season while Crystal Palace have won just 1 and lost 6 of 7 derby matches.
2. Chelsea have won 8 and drawn 4 of their 12 Premier League meetings against Crystal Palace.
3. Chelsea have allowed fewer shots on target against them than any other team in the top division (95) and have kept the most clean sheets (14) this season. [via Opta]
4. Chelsea have won 12 and drawn two of the 14 games ahead at half time this season. [via Chelsea Website]
5. The Blues have won 17 and drawn two of the 20 league games when they have scored the opening goal this season. [via Chelsea Website]
6. Chelsea are nine points up compared with the corresponding 31 fixtures last season. [via Chelsea Website]
7. In 2014 Chelsea have kept 11 clean sheets and conceded just seven goals in 17 games in all competitions. [via Chelsea Website]
8. Crystal Palace have won just 5 of their 25 Premier League London derbies at Selhurst Park.
9. This is Crystal Palace’s 50th Premier League London derby, but they have the lowest points per game of any of the capital clubs in local clashes (0.88 per game). [via Opta]
10. Crystal Palace Palace have failed to score in 4 of their last 5 Premier League games and have the worst chance conversion rate in the Premier League this season (7.5 per cent). [via Opta]
11. Crystal Palace are the Premier League's lowest scorers with 19 goals. That's a goal every two hours 22 minutes. More recently, they have scored one goal (a penalty) in the last 471 minutes. [via Chelsea Website]
12. Crystal Palace have gained two points from the 18 games in which their opponents opened the scoring. [via Chelsea Website]
13. No team have dropped fewer than Crystal Palace's six points from winning positions this season although the Eagles have gained only two points from losing positions, which is the worst record in the Premier League. [via Chelsea Website]
14. Andre Schurrle has scored 4 goals and assisted 1 in his last THREE London derby appearances.
15. Mile Jedinak has committed the most fouls in the Premier League this season (55), while Eden Hazard is the division’s most fouled player (85). [via Opta]

Match Odds (Final Result/Full Time)
Crystal Palace WIN - 7/1
DRAW - 7/2
Chelsea WIN - 2/5

*Odds obtained from SkyBet*

Match Coverage
Depending on where you are from, you can watch the match in the following channels:

United Kingdom: TalkSport Radio, BBC Radio 5 Live
United States: NBCSN, NBC Sports Live Extra
Middle East: beIN Sports
Belgium: Be Sport 1, Sporting 2
Brazil: ESPN
India: Star Sports 4 India, Star Sports HD 2 India

For additional regions, you can check out the TV schedule for the match here.

There should be many match streams that can be found online if your local sports channels are not broadcasting the game or if you happen to be busy and cannot catch the game live, follow TalkChelsea on Twitter as it would provide live match commentary on the action.

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