Crystal Palace have the chance to do the double over Chelsea, having beaten the Blues 2-1 in August. Now being led by two-time caretaker manager Guus Hiddink and are under pressure to claim every point that they can. Palace will be more afraid of Chelsea than if José Mourinho were still in charge.
Palace are one of the best teams in the Premiership for their away form, whereas they struggle more at home. Pardew’s team are effective at stopping their opponents from scoring, but they are not so prolific at scoring themselves. The issue for Palace has been a lack of production from their strikers.
Bizarrely, it took Palace until December before one of their strikers scored a goal. Thus far, they have been overly reliant on their midfielders. While it is always great to have midfielders chip in with goals, teams will eventually struggle if their strikers are not consistent enough. Also consider that Connor Wickham and Yannick Bolasie are both out for the next couple of weeks.
Chelsea have to look at Palace’s injury issues and realise that the Eagles are playing for a draw here. After dropping points throughout December, Chelsea need to start 2016 with a victory if they are to get anything from their season. And when comparing squads, Chelsea are in a much healthier condition than Palace.
Cesc Fàbregas is the only slight doubt with illness, while Diego Costa will return from his one-game suspension in the 2-2 Boxing Day draw against Watford. The sulky striker delivered his best performance of the season and was rewarded with two goals. Hiddink will need to maximise the potential of Costa if Chelsea are to go on a run of victories.
Tip one: Chelsea @ 2.15 with Betfair
Tip two: Under 2.5 goals @ 1.80 with Betfair
Crystal Palace are suffering through an injury crisis in a season where they are already not getting goals from their strikers. So long as Chelsea can break down the Eagles, they will stand an excellent chance of edging a win in this London derby.