Take a punt on Crystal Palace shocking Chelsea
Spirited visitors can cause problems at Stamford Bridge
BT Sport 1, 5.30pm Saturday
You only need to look at the stats to see why Crystal Palace are so desperate to get Wilfried Zaha back on the pitch but, with or without their ace winger, the Eagles have some sort of a sniff at Stamford Bridge.
Winners on each of their last two visits to Chelsea in the Premier League and victorious over Antonio Conte’s men at Selhurst Park this season, Palace clearly know how to beat their more celebrated capital rivals.
A fully-fit Zaha in the line-up would clearly improve Palace’s prospects – the Ivory Coast international has missed nine Premier League outings this season and his club have lost the lot of them, failing to score in seven.
The most recent was Monday night’s heartbreaking 3-2 loss against Manchester United. It was a match Palace could have won but one that ended in glorious failure and a place in the bottom three.
Spirit and effort don’t always get their rewards, as Palace are proving, but there’s nothing to suggest that Chelsea are unbeatable and it is surely worth a small interest in the visitors at double-figure odds.
Roy Hodgson has done well to get a team out in recent weeks given the injury crisis at Palace and perhaps it’s no surprise that they have taken just two points from their last six matches.
But their last two performances against Tottenham and United have been really gutsy and they are one of only four sides to have taken anything against Manchester City in the league this season.
They kickstarted their campaign belatedly with a 2-1 win against Chelsea and are hoping that taking another three points off the Blues will be the springboard to a sprint for safety.
There’s no doubt that all is not well at the Bridge. Chelsea have won just two of their last eight games and, while some of the criticism levelled at them for their approach at Manchester City last weekend was unjustified, confidence appears to be nosediving as quickly as Conte’s job prospects.
They are five points outside the top four and Conte needs something good to happen or it’s possible that Barcelona away on Wednesday might be the Italian’s final act for the club.
Chelsea can respond to pressure like all great sides do – most recently with the 4-0 romp at Brighton which followed five straight draws.
And there is a schoolboy naivety about Palace at the back sometimes which Eden Hazard could exploit as United eventually did.
The Eagles look at their most ragged, understandably, late in games when they are defending for their lives and they have conceded in the 75th minute or later in each of their last three outings.
A bet on the last goal coming after 75 minutes could well pay dividends if Palace are to start flagging but equally there’s a case for backing the second half to be the half with most goals.
Second half to be higher-scoring
2pts 21-20 bet365, Betfred, BoyleSports
1pt 11-1 general
N'Golo Kante has recovered from an illness while Tiemoue Bakayoko has also returned to training. David Luiz and Ross Barkley are out.
Mamadou Sakho and Wilfried Zaha could return after recovering from injuries. Scott Dann, Bakary Sako, Jason Puncheon and Connor Wickham are sidelined. Timothy Fosu-Mensah is available but Yohan Cabaye and Joel Ward are doubts.
Crystal Palace have scored in each of their last seven away games.
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