WILLIE DUNCAN (@Willie_Duncan) runs the rule over Saturday’s early Premier League kick-off between Crystal Palace and Chelsea.
Crystal Palace v Chelsea | Saturday 12:30 | Sky Sports 1
Another dramatic weekend of action from the Premier League starts at Selhurst Park on Saturday lunchtime when leaders Chelsea cross the capital to face Crystal Palace.
It has been a super week for the Blues so far; Arsenal’s 2-1 defeat against Everton gave Chelsea the chance to open up a six-point advantage at the top of the table and Antonio Conte’s charges cashed in as they squeezed past Sunderland on Wednesday.
The only shock element of Chelsea’s win on Wearside was that it was not the Blues’ leading marksman this term, Diego Costa, who dealt the fatal blow to David Moyes’ men, with Costa’s international team-mate, Cesc Fabregas, instead grabbing the goal that beat the Black Cats.
Defensive discipline fuels Blues
The fact that Sunderland failed to score was no surprise – but that’s not a criticism of the Black Cats, rather praise for the astonishing defensive discipline that has fuelled the Blues’ remarkable charge to the top of the table.
Indeed, since suffering a 3-0 battering at the hands of Arsenal back in September, Chelsea have won 10 consecutive Premier League matches; even more impressive is that while Conte’s team have scored 24 goals, they have conceded just two – and one of those was a Gary Cahill own goal!
Pardew’s Palace don’t really do clean sheets; the South Londoners have kept their opponents out in just one of their last 15 fixtures, instead relying on their ability to score one more than the opposition to pick up points.
It’s a strategy that hasn’t prove to be too successful, for the Eagles have come out on top in just one of their last 10 matches, with Jose Mourinho’s Manchester United the latest team to plunder the points at the Palace.
Palace to meet their match
The home side’s swashbuckling style, which has seen them score 11 goals in their last four games will surely see them cause Chelsea problems – or, at least, it might if the Eagles could be trusted to play that way this weekend.
In truth, Palace were surprisingly subdued against Manchester United; reluctant to land a glove on Mourinho’s men, the Eagles only started slugging after they fell behind just before the half-time whistle.
If Palace were unwilling to have a go against a Manchester United team that is hardly in full flight, I expect the home side’s backs to be firmly against the wall when confident Chelsea swagger into town on Saturday.
Doggedly determined defending, though, may not be enough and, so, punters should back the Blues to win to nil – again – this weekend.
The selection would have paid dividends in nine of the Blues’ last 11 league wins and, at a juicy 9/5 (BetStars), it is worthy of support once again here.
Crystal Palace v Chelsea – Chelsea to win ‘to nil’ 9/5 (Bet Stars)