Preview: Crystal Palace v Chelsea

Crystal Palace will be hoping to put an end to Chelsea’s incredible 10-game winning run in the Premier League when they meet at Selhurst Park on Saturday.

Premier League
17 December 2016
Game week 17
Kickoff: 14:30
Venue: Selhurst Park

Referee: Jonathan Moss
Assistants: A. Halliday, E. Smart
Fourth official: A. Marriner

Head-to-head summary:

Palace 29 4 9 16
Chelsea 29 19 9 4

Previous encounter:

Chelsea 3-0 Crystal Palace (03/01/16) Premier League

Chelsea goalscorers: Oscar (29′), Willian (60′), D. Costa (66′)

Players to watch:

Christian Benteke has scored four times in his last six appearances against the Blues and with eight goals this campaign for Palace, he remains an obvious goal threat for Antonio Conte’s side.

Despite a resilient a solid defensive shape under the Italian, Benteke’s strength and aerial presence will give the Blues back three problems, especially during set-pieces.

For the visitors, Diego Costa, the current top scorer of the Premier League, will be the man to look out for.

The 28-year-old is in the form of his life and his 12 goals in 16 games this season, is already on par with his tally scored in the entire 2015/16 campaign.

Costa has looked more direct under the Italians management and with more support from two attackers on either side of him plus two wings backs, the former Atletico man has thrived.

Now, also with the introduction of Cesc Fabregas to the midfield, the deep lying playmaker has offered another dimension to Costa’s all round game play, with long-balls over the top very effective on the counter.

Team form and manager quotes:

The Eagles have kept just one clean sheet in their last 21 League games and currently occupy 16th place, with only one win in 10 games, manager Alan Pardew understands he faces a massive task.

“The manager’s done a great job but the world-class players are at the top of their game. And the best thing he’s done is not the system: he’s man-managed those people to perform better.

“He’s got to grips with the toughness of the Premier League, and the physicality of it. He inherited players that were used to it, and he’s been helped by that.

“[But] he’s still done a fabulous job, the system suits them, and at the moment they look unbeatable.

“The best we can do is to make sure we give them a game which makes it as difficult as possible and hopefully get ourselves a result. It is possible.”

An 11th consecutive win would equal the club’s top-flight record, set between April and September 2009 and manager Antonio Conte could welcome back star forward Eden Hazard.

“Yes, I think he’s fit but then I have to see if decide to put Eden in the starting XI,” he told reporters.

“But he’s fit, today he trained with us, and then for sure, not only for him, but for the other players, this night also to decide, because it’s not easy to play three games in six days.

Team news:

Mathieu Flamini is out with a groin injury while James Tomkins, Connor Wickham, Bakary Sako, Loic Remy, Pape Souare and Steve Mandanda remain sidelined.

If Hazard is unavailable for Chelsea, then Willian will continue to deputise in the left-forward role.