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Wednesday, 11 October 2017

Crystal Palace vs Chelsea Records, Latest updates and Preview from Premier League clash

Alvaro Morata and N'Golo Kante are set to miss Chelsea's weekend clash with Crystal Palace through injury – but who will Antonio Conte trust to replace them?
Michy Batshuayi isn't favoured by Conte, meaning Eden Hazard could lead the line for the Blues against Roy Hodgson's goalless Eagles.
Gary Cahill could be benched for the game as Chelsea keep an eye on their Champions League clash with Roma next week, with the England defender preferred in the big clashes.
Premier league -

With no official news yet regarding the severity of Alvaro Morata's hamstring injury, it is looking increasingly unlikely that he will be available for Chelsea during Saturday's London derby at Crystal Palace. With a Champions League clash against Roma looming next Wednesday, even if he was fit and available there is very little chance that Antonio Conte would risk his star striker.

The Chelsea manager therefore has a decision to make over who will constitute his attack at Selhurst Park and how it will be deployed. There is, of course, another pure striker in Chelsea's ranks in Michy Batshuayi, though Conte has always been reluctant to use him from the start in meaningful fixtures. Last season's FA Cup semifinal win over Tottenham was the only time the Belgian has featured in the starting lineup for Chelsea in a big game.

In all likelihood, it will be his compatriot Eden Hazard who will be the focal point of Chelsea's attack. He is certainly in goalscoring form, having netted twice for his country in a 4-0 win against Cyprus on Tuesday; the first a lovely curling shot into the bottom corner and the other from the penalty spot. It will be interesting, however, to see exactly how he is used by Conte.
When played as the nominal central figure of a front three, Hazard has excelled. He was dazzling in Chelsea's 3-0 win at Leicester last season despite not getting on the scoresheet, and generally filled the striking breach brilliantly in Diego Costa's absence, albeit in a very different manner. One of his better performances in the previous 2015-16 campaign -- a campaign filled with lows both for him as an individual and for Chelsea as a team -- came in the 0-0 draw at Tottenham in which he led the line admirably. The role allows him to take up his favoured central position but also gives him the freedom to interchange places with his fellow two forwards making the trio harder to track.
Such a role depends on the formation and it is not clear that Conte will choose to field a front three against Palace. Against both Atletico Madrid and Manchester City, a forward was withdrawn to stiffen up the midfield to contrasting degrees of success. The system saw Hazard start each game as a second striker behind Alvaro Morata but while he thrived in the Spanish capital, his potency was lost against City from the moment Morata limped off after just 35 minutes. That was largely due to Willian being introduced, a fantastic player but on this occasion a square peg in a round hole. That system only works if one player can lead the line as a genuine striker while the other buzzes around creating problems behind him.
If Conte retains the formation for a third successive game then the solution might be to actually play Batshuayi from the start. Playing Hazard at the tip of a two-man attack is a waste of his talent and neither Pedro nor Willian are suited to that position. That leaves only Batshuayi as somebody theoretically capable of leading the line. While Conte might deem that a risk, it might just work. Hazard and Batshuayi are international teammates and recently lined up together against Cyprus. They therefore have prior experience of linking up and perhaps if Hazard's job is dedicated to feeding Batshuayi chances then the young striker might just flourish.
But the more realistic scenario is that Conte will revert to his preferred 3-4-3 system. This is partly due to the fact that with N'Golo Kante injured and Danny Drinkwater yet to prove his match fitness, he only has Cesc Fabregas and Tiemoue Bakayoko available as senior central midfielders. Additionally, Palace's wretched form that sees them rooted to the foot of the table after the worst start in Premier League history is likely to see Conte go for the jugular by playing three forwards.

If Morata is also ruled out of the Roma clash, Conte will then have a much tougher decision to make over whether to select a third midfielder or employ a three-man attack. Again, the fitness of his midfielders may well force his hand but if he has sufficient numbers at his disposal, his team selection will make for interesting reading. The only certainty is that Hazard will be at the fulcrum of Chelsea's ambitions.

Match stats

  • Crystal Palace have won only one of their previous eight Premier League matches against Chelsea at Selhurst Park (W1 D1 L6), winning 1-0 in March 2014 under Tony Pulis.

  • Chelsea (421) have won more points in Premier League London derbies than any other side in the competition’s history (P232 W119 D64 L49).

  • Crystal Palace are currently on the second longest run in minutes without scoring from the start of the season in Football League history (630 minutes) - only Halifax Town in the fourth tier in 1990-91 (730 minutes) had a longer wait to score.

  • The last top-flight team to lose their opening eight matches of a season were Manchester United in 1930-31, who went on to lose their first 12.

  • Crystal Palace could become the first team in Football League history to lose nine consecutive games without scoring – on only three other occasions have a team lost eight games in a row without scoring and only once in the top-flight (Sunderland between November 1976 and January 1977).

  • Chelsea have failed to score in two of their last three Premier League matches under Antonio Conte, as many as in their previous 36. The Blues only failed to score in three of their 38 PL games last season and have already drawn a blank in two of their seven so far this term.

  • Crystal Palace have an xG total of 8.14 in the Premier League this season, meaning that, based on historic data, the average side would be expected to have scored eight goals from the chances they have been presented. In comparison, Chelsea have scored 12 goals despite having an xG total of just 6.81.

  • Antonio Conte could become the first Chelsea manager to record two separate winning runs of 6+ Premier League away games (also December 2016), with the Blues winning their last five on the road in the PL.

  • Roy Hodgson has never lost his first four Premier League games in charge of a team (lost first three with Fulham).

  • Hodgson could become only the second permanent manager to lose his first four Premier League games in charge of a side without scoring a single goal after his predecessor Frank De Boer. Prior to this season, no permanent Premier League manager had lost their first four without scoring at a club.

  • Cesc Fabregas (49 goals) could become just the third Spanish player to net 50 goals in the Premier League after Diego Costa (52) and Fernando Torres (85). Fabregas could be the first Spanish midfielder to reach this milestone.


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