The Premier League returns this weekend after almost a two weeks’ gap. Chelsea, who are sitting comfortably in 1st place, will be seen in action on Saturday when they visit Selhurst Park to face fellow Londoners Crystal Palace. With Chelsea’s undefeated streak in the Premier League at stake, we decided to have an in-depth look at the home team.
Opposition Scouting Report: Crystal Palace Team Analysis
THE TEAM AND RECENT FORM:
Crystal Palace, based in South Norwood, London, qualified for the Premier League last season after being relegated to the Football League Championship in the 2004-05 season. Managed by Neil Warnock, Palace are currently in 15th place in the Premier League. The side are captained by midfielder and Australian international, Mile Jedinak. The Eagles finished at 11th position with a poor record of 45 points in 38 matches at the end of last season.
This season, their situation is even worse. Sitting at 15th position, they have managed just eight points from seven matches that include two wins, two draws and three losses. The fact that they have faced only Arsenal out of England’s elite clubs goes to show their struggling form. In their last match, they lost to Hull City by two goals to nil. It is, therefore, no secret that players will be under immense pressure when they face Chelsea, who have been the best team in the League so far.
However, home advantage is something that they can use to turn the odds in their favour. But that also remains uncertain owing to their mixed record at home this season with one win, draw and loss each, in 3 home games. Another interesting fact is that Chelsea’s last defeat came in March, against the same opposition at Selhurst Park. Apparently, this was also the last time The Blues failed to score in an away match. With two wins in their last three games, Palace’s season has started to gather momentum.
FORMATION AND STYLE OF PLAY:
Usually, Neil Warnock’s men play a 4-5-1 formation, and that is not expected to change against the Blues as Palace would want to resist the Chelsea attack as much as they can. Due to an injury to Scott Dann, the defence looks a bit shaky. Brede Hangeland is likely to replace him. But other than Dann, Neil Warnock has a fully fit squad to choose from.
With fan favourite Wilfried Zaha in midfield and the likes of Fraizer Campbell, Dwight Gayle, Andrew Johnson and Marouane Chamakh as options going forward, the squad looks good on attacking fronts. For goals, however, Palace will be dependent on counter attacks. Because the kind of form Chelsea is in, there won’t be many options on the field for them but to be defensive.
Injury to Scott Dann can affect the performance of their defence. Except that, injury is not really a problem for them. However, with the poor performances last season and so far this season, it is clear that the Palace’s talented squad has not adapted to Premier League conditions, after playing in 2nd division league for 8 seasons.
“It’s going to take a superhuman effort. It’s a difficult task for anyone that plays them. Everyone knows what they can do, and you’ve got to hope they have an off day. We’ve got to get our major players into the game as well, and that’s what we’re trying to do. Better teams than us tried to beat them and failed, so we have to do something special.”
– said Neil Warnock about Chelsea.
Clearly, he looked a little less confident, and nervous.
Julian Speroni- The Argentine goalkeeper won the Club Player Of The Year Award for the fourth time in a row after another brilliant campaign between the posts in the 2013-14 season. In the previous meeting of these two clubs, he proved that goalkeepers are not just for saving points but winning them as well when Palace defeated Chelsea 1-0. So far, he has only one clean sheet this season.
Dwight Gayle- The 23-year-old English striker is currently the leading goal scorer for Crystal Palace with a tally of five goals in seven appearances this season. He has also scored a hat-trick this season, which came in a comfortable 3-0 win over Walsall in the second round of the Capital One Cup. Towards the end of the 2013-14 season, in which Palace were trailing 0-3 against Liverpool at home. Gale scored two goals in an unbelievable comeback and the game ended at 3-3.
HEAD TO HEAD:
The two sides have met 35 times till now, with Chelsea winning 15 of them. Six matches ended in the favor of Crystal Palace while 14 ended in a draw. If we go by the history, getting all the three points is not going to be a cakewalk for Chelsea, although Palace are not expected to put up a tough fight against the Blues in this much anticipated London Derby.
Edited By: Vikram Vadiganeni