Crystal Palace v Chelsea Predictions, Betting Tips and Previews
December 27, 2018
Selhurst Park - Premier League
Chelsea travel to Crystal Palace on New Year's Eve looking to build on their win over Watford and keep pace with the top three. Having beaten Manchester City last weekend, the Eagles failed to score against Cardiff on Boxing Day, but are still in solid form going into the game.
Chelsea took first blood when the sides last met back in November, with a rare Alvaro Morata brace and a Pedro strike seeing off Andros Townsend's solo goal.
Roy Hodgson's injury crisis is finally showing signs of abating, with only Christian Benteke, Martin Kelly and Wayne Hennessey set to miss out. Even so, the manager is not expected to make many changes with Andros Townsend yet again set to partner Wilfred Zaha up top.
Maurizio Sarri lost two wingers on Boxing Day after Pedro and his replacement Callum Hudson-Odoi both went off with minor muscular injuries. With no like-for-life replacements available, the coach may be forced into fielder Ruben Loftus-Cheek on the flank, or reverting Eden Hazard back to the left-wing position.
Crystal Palace v Chelsea Preview and Predictions
Crystal Palace have seen their stock rise over the last few weeks, with three wins out of their last five games, including a shock victory over Manchester City. Hodgson has subsequently seen his team jump to mid-table safety, and will be looking for another scalp in Chelsea on New Year's Eve. They're around 4/1 for the win.
The Blues have kept pace with the top four this season, despite not quite looking convincing. Chelsea have also managed a win over Manchester City, although have capitulated to Wolves and Leicester within the space of two weeks. With Sarri insistent on instilling a philosophy within his squad, the London club have at times looked predictable and short of a plan B, yet, have also played some scintillating football. It's 4/5 that they see off Palace here.
Another issue for the manager is the utter lack of a clinical striker. Alvaro Morata has failed to produce the goods since arriving from Real Madrid, whilst for all of Olivier Giroud's merits, he has never been a 20 goal a season forward. This has seen Eden Hazard pushed forward into the centre-forward role, with the Belgian currently having been involved in half of his team's goals this season. However, with Madrid circling, Sarri must be wondering where the goals will come from.
Palace, on the other hand, would be delighted for a player such as Morata or Giroud, with Hodgson also resorting to fielding wingers up front due to a lack of firepower. Benteke has rarely been fit for the Eagles, whilst it seems that Jordan Ayew, Connor Wickham and Alexander Sorltoh are not considered up to the task by their manager. The south-London club have a decent enough squad, and in Max Mayer, Aaron Wan-Bissaka and Luka Milevojevic have a fair amount of technical ability too. If Hodgson can secure the funds for a top striker, they should be well clear of a relegation scrap come May.
Palace may be the underdogs on Sunday, but have shown their willingness to dig in and grind out a result - the draw is 29/10. Chelsea have shown in the past few months that they don't like it when teams get up in their faces, and could well be susceptible to Wilfred Zaha's pace on the break.
Eden Hazard to score first at 4/1
The Belgian ace is on track for his highest scoring season with Chelsea.
Both teams to score at 3/4
Chelsea haven't kept a clean sheet against Palace since December 2016.