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Relentless Premier League leaders primed to move nine points clear

Conte's Chelsea can make it 11 straight top-flight wins

Chelsea have had plenty to smile about
1 of 1

Premier League
Sky Sports 1 & Mix, 12.30pm

Chelsea have the chance to go a whopping nine points clear at the top of the Premier League and it's an opportunity they look set to grab against Crystal Palace.

Antonio Conte's leaders are the only top-five team in action on Saturday and, having guaranteed themselves the Christmas advantage, this looks the perfect time for them to pile pressure on their title rivals as they go in search of an 11th straight Premier League victory.

Bookmakers are taking few chances on the away win at Selhurst Park and it's easy to see why.

The Blues have dropped points in only three league games this season and two of those came in defeats to nearest challengers Arsenal and Liverpool. Since switching to a 3-4-3 formation they have a perfect record of ten wins by an aggregate 24-2.

Chelsea's versatility has been one of the impressive aspects of that red-hot sequence, and showing different ways to win is an important attribute for any potential champions.

They romped to success against Leicester (3-0), Manchester United (4-0) and Everton (5-0), came from behind to triumph against Tottenham and Manchester City despite being outplayed in the first half on both occasions, while recent 1-0 victories against West Brom and Sunderland were more of a grind.

And a one-goal winning margin may be the best bet again, particularly as that wager would have landed in seven of Palace's nine league defeats this season.

Conte bemoaned the lack of a killer second goal at Sunderland on Wednesday but all three substitutions - Bransilav Ivanovic, Nemanja Matic and Nathaniel Chalobah on for Victor Moses, Willian and Pedro - suggested the Italian was happy to take the slender margin.

He also brought on Ivanovic almost immediately after Diego Costa broke the deadlock against West Brom on Sunday, and the Italian has barely put a foot wrong tactically.

Most Palace supporters would not say the same about their boss Alan Pardew, who is fighting for his Selhurst Park future with the Eagles down in 16th spot. 

It's one win in ten for Palace, who have lost seven of those, and some of the defending has been shambolic with only one clean sheet in the league this season. They have also conceded five at Swansea and three at Burnley and Hull.

Palace have played 37 top-flight matches since last Christmas and accumulated only 28 points which is relegation form even if Pardew could point to the run to the FA Cup final as a reasonable excuse for last season's Premier League collapse.

Wilfried Zaha and Christian Benteke offer the hosts a reasonable threat in the final third but David Luiz has been outstanding since returning to Chelsea and the Blues can make it 11 in a row.

Recommendation
Chelsea to win by one goal
1pt 11-4 Sky Bet

Bet on this game at Soccerbase.com


Team news
Crystal Palace
Jason Puncheon returns from a ban but James Tomkins, Bakary Sako, Connor Wickham, Loic Remy, Steve Mandanda, Pape Souare and Jonathan Benteke are out. 

Chelsea
Eden Hazard returned to training and Antonio Conte must decide whether to start the Belgian. Chelsea have no injuries.

Key stat
Chelsea have won to nil in eight of their last ten Premier League matches

Since switching to a 3-4-3 formation the Blues have a perfect record of ten wins by an aggregate 24-2
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