Crystal Palace vs Chelsea
Selhurst Park is the place to be for the big London derby on Sunday when Maurizio Sarri takes his Champions League-chasing stars to face a resurgent Crystal Palace.
Chelsea fans will head south of the River Thames for this Premier League clash, full of hope after passing a difficult Boxing Day test away to Watford. And they are sure to get a white-hot welcome from the Palace Ultras as Roy Hodgson’s team endeavours to continue its recent upturn in form.
The Blues have already beaten the Eagles this season, by 3-1 at Stamford Bridge back in November, so there’s a little matter of revenge on the hosts’ minds.
Palace need to be more clinical…
Ten points from the last six games lifted the Eagles away from the drop zone, but there is still plenty of work to be done to ensure another season in the top flight for Hodgson’s talented squad. They can play superb attacking football on their day, but they don’t always get the desired result.
Andros Townsend’s wonder-strike against Manchester City is a contender for goal of the season and is sure to feature in the Premier League 2018 highlights package. But Palace couldn’t follow up that incredible victory with a win, or even a solitary goal against relegation fodder Cardiff despite raining 31 shots down on the Welshmen’s goal. It isn’t the first time the Eagles have dominated a game without scoring the goals their approach play deserved.
Leading scorer Luka Milivojevic has five goals, but four have been penalties. Meanwhile, flair players Wilfried Zaha and Townsend have three goals each. Those two, in particular, should aim for a much higher return in the second half of the season. Hodgson has been quick to say Palace is no longer a selling club as the wealthy vultures begin to circle in the approach of the January transfer window. Zaha and Townsend will have to stay to ensure a happy end to the 2018/19 story.
And Chelsea must rediscover that consistency
Chelsea occupy the fourth Champions League spot at the half-way stage, and that would be a decent measure of success for Maurizio Sarri in his first season in the English top flight. The Premier League 2018 betting odds make the Blues the favourites to win that final big European place, but Sarri needs to ensure his team returns to the level of consistency which saw them go 12 matches unbeaten at the start of the season.
Eden Hazard’s brace beats Watford in their last Premier League fixture
Leicester City were the last team to give Chelsea a bloody nose, stealing a 0-1 win at Stamford Bridge thanks to a Jamie Vardy goal. Not long after that, the Blues had inflicted the first defeat on champions Manchester City. There is a tendency for the Blues to rely on the form of Eden Hazard, and Hodgson has warned his players to be wary of the Belgian’s threat, having watched him score a double to win the points at Watford.
There is always speculation around Hazard’s future when the transfer window opens, and Sarri knows he needs to sort out the future of his talisman. I suspect Chelsea may need to learn to win without Hazard sooner or later.
There has only been one draw between these two teams in the 18 Premier league clashes since 1994, with Chelsea winning 13 and Palace the other four. The corresponding fixture last season resulted in a 2-1 win for the Eagles courtesy of a Wilfried Zaha winner, and that epic clash is fresh in the memory for both sets of fans.
This has been a happy hunting ground for Chelsea over the years. During the last nine meetings at Selhurst Park, Crystal Palace have won twice while Chelsea have won seven times, scoring 14 goals to the Eagles’ four.
Hazard’s goals against Watford took his season’s tally to ten, twice as many Palaces’ Milivojevic.
||Crystal Palace vs Chelsea
||Over 2.50 goals @ 1.93
|December 30, 20:00 (GMT+8)
It’s not surprising that the Blues are favourites to win this game at us odds of 1.74 with the draw at 3.50, and 4.70 for an Eagles win. But if Hodgson’s boys can lift themselves as they did against Manchester City, they have a realistic chance of winning at least a point.
Another shock result and a repeat of last season’s 2-1 Palace win will pay handsomely at 16.50 and that will do very nicely for Roy.
|A SHORT EXPLANATION ON HOW OUR () BETS ARE WORTH:
| = €20 (Highly confident)
|| = €10 (CONFIDENT)
|| = €5 (SOMEWHAT CONFIDENT)
Disclaimer: Odds are correct at time of publish.
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