EPL: Chelsea attack Palace
Crystal Palace vs. Chelsea
Venue: Selhurst Park
Kick off: 1PM
Crystal Palace head into today’s Premier League clash with Chelsea having recorded seven points from their last three games in the top flight.
Palace went into December having failed to register a win in eight Premier League fixtures, but Roy Hodgson has spearheaded an impressive return to form during the final month of 2018.
As many as 10 points have been recorded in their last six outings, and it has resulted in Palace heading into the weekend sitting in 14th place in the table.
Hodgson will be delighted having opened up a seven-point gap between Palace and the relegation zone, but the former England boss will feel that his side can continue to build on what they have achieved in recent weeks.
Four points have come from games at Manchester United and Manchester City respectively, and four clean sheets have been kept in their last seven contests in the top flight.
Hodgson also appears to have found a solution to his side’s lack of goals with nine strikes coming from six matches, although the London outfit did fail to score any of their 31 chances in the goalless draw with Cardiff City on Boxing Day.
On the other hand, Chelsea find themselves just four points adrift of Manchester City in the standings with the champions having lost three of their last four games, but Maurizio Sarri will acknowledge that his team remain someway off matching the quality of Pep Guardiola’s side.
The fact that City’s drop in form has left them in third position has highlighted the difficulties of lifting the Premier League trophy, but Sarri is yet to fully convince Blues supporters that he can take the club back into title-winning contention.
The triumph at Vicarage Road on Boxing Day has gone some way to easing any pressure on the Italian with Chelsea having now recorded four wins from their last six outings, although they remain just two points ahead of fifth-placed Arsenal.
That will be of more pressing concern to the powers-that-be at Stamford Bridge who are desperate for a return to the Champions League, but question marks will remain over whether Chelsea can eventually match the likes of City, Liverpool and Tottenham Hotspur in the long term.
Sarri has a number of issues to solve if that is to be the case, and the fact that Callum Hudson-Odoi was preferred to Olivier Giroud as an option off the bench against the Hornets suggests that the Italian is not satisfied with the Frenchman or fellow forward Alvaro Morata.
A solution needs to be found in January with Chelsea having gone almost two months without registering more than two goals in a league match, although Eden Hazard has been superb when used in a false-nine role away from home.
Hazard now has 10 strikes and nine assists in the Premier League this season, but there is little doubt that the Belgian requires a helping hand from his teammates at a time when his future remains up in the air.
Crystal Palace possible XI: Guaita, Wan-Bissaka, Tomkins, Sakho, Van Aanholt, McArthur, Kouyate, Miivojevic, Meyer, Townsend, Zaha.
Chelsea possible XI: Arrizabalaga, Azpilicueta, Rudiger, Luiz, Alonso, Kante, Jorginho, Barkley, Loftus-Cheek, Hazard, Willian.