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Chelsea - Crystal Palace Preview: A chance to build

Chelsea hosts Crystal Palace at Stamford Bridge this Saturday having notched its first Premier Lea...

Chelsea hosts Crystal Palace at Stamford Bridge this Saturday having notched its first Premier League win of the season against West Bromwich Albion last weekend.

Jose Mourinho and his men have taken four points from a possible nine, a stumbling start which sees them occupy 10th position on the league table.

A glittering debut performance by Pedro helped Chelsea to an edgy 3-2 victory in the West Midlands, but the Portuguese will be expecting a more polished display from his men, particularly at the back.

Alan Pardew has enjoyed a less turbulent beginning to the Premier League campaign. The Eagles have burst out of the blocks with victories over Norwich and Aston Villa and a loss to Arsenal in between.

Chelsea has the upper hand in recent meetings with Palace, especially at Stamford Bridge. The Blues haven’t suffered a home defeat at the hands of the Eagles since 1982, winning seven of the last 10 matches between the pair.

Mourinho will take charge of his 100th league home match as Chelsea boss, a milestone he insists will count for little unless his Blues take all three points.

Chelsea Form

(W) West Brom 2-3 Chelsea (Premier League, August 2015)
(L) Manchester 3-0 Chelsea (Premier League, August 2015)
(D) Chelsea 2-2 Swansea City (Premier League, August 2015)

Crystal Palace Form

(W) Crystal Palace 4-1 Shrewsbury Town (Capital One Cup, August 2015)
(W) Crystal Palace 2-1 Aston Villa (Premier League, August 2015)
(L) Crystal Palace 1-2 Arsenal (Premier League, August 2015)
(W) Norwich City 1-3 Crystal Palace (Premier League, August 2015)

Last Five Meetings

Chelsea 1-0 Crystal Palace (Premier League, May 2015)
Crystal Palace 1-2 Chelsea (Premier League, October 2014)
Crystal Palace 1-0 Chelsea (Premier League, March 2014)
Chelsea 2-1 Crystal Palace (Premier League, December 2013)
Chelsea 4-1 Crystal Palace (Premier League, March 2005)

Chelsea Team News

John Terry is suspended after being sent off during the 3-2 win over West Brom last Sunday. Gary Cahill, who started on the bench against the Baggies, is expected to resume his post in central defence to partner Kurt Zouma.

The fitness of Victor Moses and Oscar remains unclear, but reports suggest the Brazilian will undergo a test prior to Saturday’s clash.

New signing Kenedy could make his Chelsea bow after joining from Fluminense last Saturday.

Crystal Palace Team News

Yannick Bolasie could return to the starting eleven having sat out the Capital One Cup win over Shrewsbury on Tuesday.

Mile Jedinak faces up to three weeks on the sidelines after suffering a hamstring injury during the week cup tie.

Strikers Marouane Chamakh (hamstring) and Fraizer Campbell (hamstring) and goalkeeper Julian Speroni (finger) are unlikely to make the trip to Stamford Bridge.

Probable Lineups

Score Prediction

Our opening month of the campaign has been plagued by red cards and penalties, but excuses don’t win silverware. With our first three points of the season in the bag, it’s crucial we use this match against Crystal Palace as a catalyst for a spell of good form.

If his debut last weekend is anything to go by, Pedro offers a breath of fresh air to our stale attacking play of late. A first-half goal was only a fraction of his overall contribution; his creativity and directness seemed to inspire players around him to find space and look for the ball. The Spaniard played a significant role in our win at The Hawthorns, and I expect him to be equally as influential against Palace.

Our biggest concern is at the back. In each of our opening three matches, we’ve looked anything but the miserly back four so typical of a Jose Mourinho team. I’m nervous to see how we cope without JT, particularly with Ivanovic looking vulnerable on the right. I don’t think it will be too much longer before we see Baba Rahman replace the Serb and swap flanks with Azpilicueta, but I suspect Mourinho is allowing his new signing more time to settle in.

Regardless of our starting eleven, we should beat Palace at the Bridge. Nothing breeds confidence like consecutive wins and victory over the Eagles in our own backyard is just what we need to get our season up and running.

I see us coming away with a 2-0 win. What are your score predictions?

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