Crystal Palace are a team transformed from the start of last season. They are the best giant killers that the Premier League has in its ranks. Alan Pardew seems to have learnt a lot from Mourinho and has shown how to play against bigger teams. There will be some heated battles on all parts of the pitch.
When the season started, nobody had thought that Chelsea would be trailing Manchester City by five points after three games into the season. But that is how the season has turned out to be. Chelsea only got a win last week against West Brom despite being down to just ten men.
John Terry was sent off so he is a certain omission from the squad to face Crystal Palace. Kurt Zouma should take onus on himself beside Gary Cahill. Despite being the vice captain, Branislav Ivanovic may have to rest on the bench. However, if one understands Mourinho, they will know that Mourinho isn’t the one to blood young Baba Rahman against as good a team as Palace can be on their day.
In attack, Oscar was magnificent in the first game against Swansea but is a big doubt for this match against Crystal Palace. Chelsea might have a similar look to last week’s winning combination in terms of attacks. It would mean that Pedro would again start on the right wing after last week’s heroics.
Willian will once again be seen flying his shots back into the stand from the CAM position while Hazard will look to find his golden form which seems to have been left at his holiday resort.
Moving back Matic and Fabregas are the ideal pairing for teams like Palace and hence are more than likely to start. This game would see some very fast players taking to the pitch for both the teams and hence we should see the best of battles in that respect, especially if Ivanovic is to start. Let’s have a look at the key player battles from Chelsea v Crystal Palace.
Damien Delaney vs Diego Costa
Delaney began the season in fine fettle as he took it on his head to take Palace past Norwich for the first game of the season, scoring twice. However, he should be expected to be kept busy by a certain Diego Costa. Costa has just scored for the first time this season against West Brom last week and would look to settle in some kind of form with at least another goal.
Even when the Spaniard doesn’t score, he’s a menace to handle both physically as well as mentally. His verbal and physical battles win him a psychological edge against many defenders and thus this will be a nice match up.
Delaney is a player who loves his tackles, and Diego Costa does not like to be tackled that often. Besides, the constant pressing that Willian will help Costa with also makes Delaney an uncomfortable customer for the Blues attack.
Delaney: Tackling, Interceptions
Costa: Finishing, Hold-up and Stare/Shove
Wilfried Zaha vs Azpilicueta
Since coming back from Manchester United, Zaha has had a good time, especially under a reinvigorated Alan Pardew.
Zaha’s main asset is his pace and dribbling. However, he is uncomfortable at shielding the ball. Azpilicueta is the perfect defender to have in this instance. He has enough pace to match strides with the 22 year old winger. Besides, when defending with the ball at his feet, Azpilicueta will have the advantage of physical strength against Zaha in addition to his strong ball shielding ability.
Zaha though could create problems if he is afforded any space, since his passing only works when he is given space to run into. Azpilicueta will be well briefed though and should have the better of the best attacking threat that Crystal Palace posses.
Zaha: Pace, Dribbling
Azpilicueta: Strength, Passing and Tackling
Pape Souaré vs Pedro:
Chelsea latest acquisition was an instant hit at the Hawthorns, he is very much in line to make his debut at Stamford Bridge today against Alan Pardew’s organized defence. However, Pape Souaré is more of an attacking wing back than a defending one, and is certainly going to have a bad time matching up to the magnificent Pedro.
Souaré has played in three games for Palace so far and has assisted one goal. So he will also be busy dealing with Ivanovic. If there is a game where Ivanovic regains form, it is this where he can double up with Pedro and torment the Senegalese defender.
With a strong focus, Pape Souaré is a good player but just falls short of the stature of the Chelsea attack, especially when Eden Hazard switches flanks to have fun with the left back. A no brainer, as Souaré will certainly have a tough time dealing with multiple threats either very fast, skilled, strong or all of these.
Souaré: Composure, crossing
Pedro: Pace, Dribbling, Passing, Shooting, Finishing, etc. etc. etc.
Normally any player battles against Chelsea are incomplete without the inclusion of Hazard against the opposition. However, Hazard wields his influence from not just the left wing. At one moment he is frying the right back, at another the central defender at the Edge of the box and at another he is crossing from the Right byline. He is everywhere when in form and it is high time he starts doing all that and more. He is a player that an entire team battles and not one and that is why he is so special.
Chelsea are at home for this game and though have a defence to mend, need to be very, very bad to lose this one. The individuals are just way too superior for any Crystal Palace opponent. Past experiences show that this is a team game and let’s hope we see a United (oops!) effort against the London rivals.
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