With Premier League champions Chelsea coming to Crystal Palace’s Selhurst Park home this weekend, just how will Roy Hodgson’s men go about potentially upsetting the odds and beating the Blues?
New manager Roy Hodgson is yet to really hit the ground running at the bottom of the table club, and with no league goal to their name this season, the Eagles look set for the drop already this campaign. The pressure is on to pick up results, and fast.
Chelsea, on the other hand, have had a reasonably solid start to the season, with new-boy Alvaro Morata catching the eye in particular. That, alongside the fit again Eden Hazard, leaves the holders in a strong position to retain the title this campaign. After picking up an injury in the 1-0 home defeat to Manchester City, ruling him out for at least a month, Morata is out of this upcoming match though, which will give Hodgson’s Palace some much needed hope.
Crystal Palace, a side who have been heavily hammered by two other title contenders, Manchester City and Manchester United, 5-0 and 4-0 respectively, are due a big scalp. Parking the bus, stopping a potential goal fest and looking to grind out a 1-0 win might be their best hope.
During his time at Fulham in particular, a club who have similar resources to Crystal Palace, Hodgson turned the Cottagers into a tough-to-beat, well organised machine. That approach is familiar to him and helped Fulham reach a Europa League final during his tenure.
Crystal Palace need to approach this game in a similar manner to how Fulham undoubtedly would have – sit back, soak up the pressure, get stuck in and turn the game into a real battle, thus hoping Chelsea fail to turn up and with the absence of Morata, offer less of a threat. Of course the likes of Eden Hazard and Willian have the ability to cause any side problems, but if Palace can contain those two, focus on their shape and look to catch Chelsea on the break with the likes of Andros Townsend carrying them up the pitch, the Eagles could cause a shock, especially in front of their home crowd, who are usually noisy and always support their team.
Crystal Palace’s chances of victory against even a weakened Chelsea side might be slim, but if anyone can turn them into a tough nut to crack and a well oiled, effective unit, something they really need to aspire to be now the failed footballing approach from Frank de Boer is no longer on the cards, the former England and Fulham boss can, starting at home to Chelsea, where the Eagles will hope to bully Antonio Conte’s men into an off day.
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