This Saturday (10am ET on NBCSN for viewers in the United States) sees Chelsea take the short trip down the road to South London, where Crystal Palace await them. The last time these two sides met skipper John Terry scored an own goal, denting the Blue’s title hopes and giving Palace a real hope of staying up. The sides meet at Selhurst with the current league leaders hoping to still be unbeaten come 5pm Saturday evening.
There’s good news for Jose Mourinho as marksmen Diego Costa emerged unscathed, after two appearances for Spain last week in which he netted his first international goal. The Spaniard is in fine form this season, already netting nine times in only seven appearances. Thibaut Courtois is still out injured after his concussion against Arsenal a fortnight ago, which gives the veteran Petr Cech his chance to prove he should be starting ahead of the young Belgian. Drogba and Ramires are both back in full training after shaking off groin and ankle problems, however, neither are expected to start. Andre Schurrle missed out for Germany midweek with suspected flu, but the German is expected to play a part for the blues come Saturday.
Palace are hoping to make it back-to-back victories against their West London rivals – a feat they haven’t achieved since March 1982. The South Londoners have had an edgy start to the season, having already lost Tony Pulis and appointed a new manager in Neil Warnock, who has proven experience in the top-flight with his first spell at Palace, as well as QPR and Sheffield United.
Cesc Fabregas is making the Premiership look easy after an amazing start in which he has seven assists – more than any Palace player since their promotion to the top-flight in 2013. He is the real danger man for the Blues and his link up play with fellow countryman Costa will keep the Eagles’ backline on their toes throughout the meeting. His ability to unlock defenses is priceless and he also has a few goals in his locker too.
Wilfried Zaha has impressed since his loan return to Palace, but he was only used as a substitute in their defeat to Hull City last time out. The young England U/21 international has played his best football throughout his career in a blue and red shirt, and will need to produce the goods if Palace are to get past Chelsea’s defense, who have kept 21 clean sheets Mourinho’s return at the start of last season. Both James McArthur and captain Mile Jedinak return in the heart of midfield after being away on international duty in the week.
A win for Chelsea will see them extend their best start to a campaign since 2005 and maybe even further the gap at the top, depending on City’s result in the early kick-off against Spurs.
Palace need a victory to inject lift into their campaign and try to avoid the relegation scrap, at least for the time being. If they lose and QPR, Newcastle and Burnley all win they will be only one point off the relegation zone and will find themselves in a precarious situation.
Whatever the result, a London derby is certain to have passion from both sets of supporters and on the pitch there’s the exciting prospect of goals.