How Can Crystal Palace Avoid Getting The Blue vs. Chelsea?
And so it is time for the champions-elect to bring their relentless march to the title to Selhurst Park. Many pundits / commentators have deemed that the Premier League is done and dusted and the only doubt that remains is by how far Chelsea will win by – five points, eight points, ten points even. At William Hill they are 2/1 on so we might as well concentrate on something else for our entertainment for the remainder of the season, the fat lady has already been warming up.
Chelsea face a Palace team (5,000-1, if you were asking) whose own bubble was burst by Hull two weeks ago after Warnock had collected an impressive eight points from his first four matches, earning him a nomination for the dreaded manager of the month accolade, which is usually a foretaste of a poor run of form. Warnock has been heaping praise on Chelsea in the run-up to the game and seems to be of the same opinion as most pundits in already tying blue and white ribbons on the gleaming Barclays trophy and admitted that after Clough Mourinho is his managerial idol.
So nobody it seems expects anything but a comfortable victory for the visitors but before the whole game is written off as a foregone conclusion let’s just remind ourselves of what happened last season. Chelsea arrived on the back of hammering Arsenal 6-0 in Wenger’s fateful 1,000th match in charge. Although Palace were showing signs of making their Pulis-led survival secure not many gave us a cat in a hell’s chance of toppling the Blues. The 1-0 victory was sweet and made all the sweeter for many that the goal came courtesy of fall guy, John Terry. The match was also remembered for the fracas with the ball boy who dallied returning the ball and for Mourinho’s admission after the game that his team lacked - “balls”.
Realistically the odds are still stacked heavily one way and even more so as we have lost our best defender to injury; Scott Dann who has been an absolute rock in the centre of defence since arriving in January. Damien Delaney whom I wrote about earlier this week for Five Year Plan needs to step up to the plate as he faces the daunting prospect of keeping the prolific Costa quiet. Indeed the whole defence will have to stand up and be counted. The midfield trio of Jedinak, Ledley and McArthur will need to be at their very best in breaking up the flow of traffic towards our goal and even launching the odd attack.
It is important that we have some threat going forward, and the hope is that Bolasie is not too exhausted after his fine midweek display for Democratic Republic of Congo. If he can be at his energetic and enigmatic best we can cause Chelsea problems. Significantly, Warnock spoke about Zaha this week and how he needs to rebuild his confidence, which has been eroded by his Manchester exile. A sparkling display against Chelsea would be just what the chiropodist ordered.
Richard’s first book “The A-Z of Football Hates” is out now & available through bookshops & usual online outlets.