Reigning Premier League champions will want to forget 2015 as quickly as possible, as it has been at the same time both the best and the worst year for the Chelsea family. Heading into the new calendar year 2016 the Blues travel to Selhurst Park eager to make a dramatic turn to their fortunes.
Alan Pardew’s Palace have become somewhat the big-club specialists over the past twelve months, having beaten Liverpool twice, Manchester City, Tottenham and Chelsea as well so the fans will be feeling hopeful ahead of the Blues’ visit. Heading into the festive period on the back of two consecutive wins over Southampton and Stoke City, the Eagles have been held during the festivities to two disappointing goalless stalemates with Bournemouth and Swansea respectively. Alan Pardew’s men will be looking to get back to winning ways and to get the 2016 started on a high note, and there is no better way to do so by producing a memorable display against the reigning champions. Crystal Palace are unbeaten in their last six Premier League matches and the Eagles boast the second-best defensive record in the league having conceded 16 goals so far, only one more than Tottenham. Currently sitting in fifth, the hosts are eager to make a serious push for Champions League spot which is only four points away, but will also have to improve their scoring exploits as 23 scored goals so far has been a displeasing record.
Alan Pardew is having serious selection issues ahead of the game versus Chelsea. Crystal Palace manager is left without his key players Yohan Cabaye and Yannick Bolasie, but on the bright side Damien Delaney is expected to return from an ankle problem.
However, Kwesi Appiah, Bakary Sako, Dwight Gale and Connor Wickham are all out and the hosts will have Marouane Chamack as the only available striker after Partick Bamford loan from Chelsea has been terminated.
From lifting the trophy in May to relegation fears in December, the calendar year of 2015 has been one hell of a ride for the London Blues. With Jose Mourinho all gone and forgotten, the reigning champions head into the new year with Guus Hiddink, who is still in search of his first win as Chelsea manager. The Dutchman recorded back-to-back draws against Watford on Boxing Day and Manchester United at the end of the year respectively. The Blues are unbeaten in three matches and the latest result against Manchester United has been seen as the step in the right direction despite the woeful away record now stretching to seven matches without a win. It has been the longest winless run wince 2001 and Guus Hiddink will have plenty of work in steadying the rocky boat away from Stamford Bridge. Chelsea find themselves sitting in 14th place in the standings with only three points away from the dropping zone and another possible set-back could see the champions slipping below the line. Chelsea have scored only two goals in their last five away games and that is another reason for concern ahead of their visit to Selhurst Park.
Cesk Fabregas should be back in contention for his place in the line-up having recovered from an illness which prevented him from featuring at Old Trafford.
Gary Cahill and Loic Remy have also missed the last game and will be two major doubts for the upcoming event, but Diego Costa returns to the fold after serving his suspension and should regain his place upfront.
Key Points to Consider
- Crystal Palace are unbeaten in their last 6 Premier League matches
- The Eagles have shipped in merely 15 goals this season
- Chelsea have failed to win their last seven Premier League games on the road
- The Blues scored only two goals in their last five away matches
- Guus Hiddink still without a win as Chelsea manager
Both sides have struggled with efficiency so far this term and will be more interested in keeping their nets still when they meet at Selhurst Park. Crystal Palace have struggled with scoring exploits throughout the season, while Chelsea’s woeful away record makes good value of betting on goals.
Verdict: Under 2.5 goals
Best odds: 13/20