This fixture is the perfect example of how crazy and unexpected the Premier League has been so far this season as Coral announce they are offering 5/1 on ANY goal being scored during the game!
Who would have believed at the start of the season that Crystal Palace would be in a European qualification position and Chelsea would be three points off the relegation zone? Yet that’s exactly the situation both teams find themselves in heading into 2016.
Chelsea desperately need to start winning, yet that will be no easy task away at Selhurst Park. Crystal Palace went undefeated in the month of December, and will be looking to secure a win against a Chelsea team in turmoil to avoid being overtaken by an impressive group of chasing teams, including Man Utd, Liverpool and Watford. Chelsea will be equally eager for victory to avoid the shocking prospect of the relegation zone.
The South London hosts will be far from their full strength on Sunday. Palace will be without the services of Yohan Cabaye, who is suspended.
Their attacking options are severely limited due to injuries impacting Bolasie, Wickham, Sako and Gayle. Previously on loan Patrick Bamford has returned to Chelsea and could even start against his former team here. The key challenge for Crystal Palace on Sunday will be to find some attacking threat – the home side haven’t managed to find the net in their last two Premier League games.
Chelsea’s chances of snatching a much-needed away victory will be boosted by the return of controversial striker Diego Costa who has been suspended recently.
Costa has struggled to find consistency this season, but is still the most potent option in a team which will be without Loic Remy and Radamel Falcao due to injury. Chelsea’s defensive hopes will be boosted by the return of experienced defender Gary Cahill whose ankle complaint is not severe enough to keep him out of Gus Hiddink’s starting XI.
Chelsea have seen signs of improvement since parting ways with Jose Mourinho. Last season’s champions have a tough run of fixtures in the coming weeks, with Premier League contests on the way against Everton, Arsenal, Watford and Man Utd in succession. Getting some momentum going will be absolutely vital.
The pressure on the team is immense as a loss could genuinely see them on the brink of the relegation zone.
Sunday’s contest against Palace is one owner Roman Abromovich will see as absolutely vital in setting the tone for the remainder of this year’s Premier League campaign.