Sunday 3rd May – 13:30 – Stamford Bridge
Chelsea are on the cusp of the Premier League title and victory against Crystal Palace on Sunday will secure it. The Blues have been head and shoulders above their rivals in the chase for the title this season and they could have it wrapped up with three games to spare. They enter this weekend’s fixtures 13 points clear and needing three points to seal a first championship in five years. A victory would take them to 83 points, which is just three points less than the total they amassed when they last achieved title success in the 2009/10 season. They had to come from behind on Wednesday night to beat Leicester City 3-1, but did achieve a 14th game without defeat in the Premier League. Crystal Palace, who will become just the third team this season to beat Chelsea in the league if successful, have a history of upsetting title challenges, such as Liverpool last season and Manchester City this. They are safe in 12th, and lost 2-0 to Hull City last weekend. It would take one huge shock for Chelsea not to lift the trophy, but the question is can Palace delay the celebrations?
The Key Battle: John Terry vs Glenn Murray
He is the man who will lift the trophy for a fourth time in his career if Chelsea win tomorrow. John Terry is a Stamford Bridge legend, and has rolled back the years with countless incredible displays this season which earnt him a place in the PFA Team of the Year.
Mr Reliable, JT works tirelessly every game and his numerous blocks and slide tackles have been just as important to Chelsea this season as the goals of Costa and Hazard.
On the topic of hitting the back of the net, a goal against Leicester in midweek means that the 34 year is now level with David Unsworth as the top-scoring defender in Premier League history with 38 goals.
Scoring is primarily the job of strikers though, and Glenn Murray has been one of the most inform players in that position recently, and is the man who could put the title celebrations on hold.
Since returning from a loan spell at Reading in January, Murray has six goals in 11 league games as well as three assists. These performances meant he came second in my Player of the Month for April.
- Diego Costa has again been ruled out with a hamstring injury and may not play again this season according to manager Jose Mourinho.
- The Blues boss is likely to continue with an unchanged defence, leaving Kurt Zouma and Filipe Luis to warm the bench once again.
- However goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois is set to return after a minor hip problem, whilst Loic Remy is back in contention.
- Alan Pardew is hopeful defender Joel Ward will overcome a shin injury.
- Strikers Fraizer Campbell and Marouane Chamakh remain on the sidelines.
- Following the defeat to Hull, Pardew may wish to freshen up his XI with Joe Ledley pushing for a return in central midfield, putting Mile Jedinak and James McArthur under pressure.
Chelsea wins = 16 / Crystal Palace wins = 6 / Draws = 14
Last Meeting: Crystal Palace 1-2 Chelsea (18th October 2014)
Cesc Fabregas scored his first league goal for Chelsea as the Blues survived a late Crystal Palace fightback to maintain a five-point advantage over Manchester City. The visitors shrugged off the absence of top scorer Diego Costa to open the scoring with a 25-yard Oscar free-kick. Chelsea’s Cesar Azpilicueta and Palace’s Damien Delaney were sent off before Fabregas finished a fine move. Fraizer Campbell’s late goal provided a scare but Jose Mourinho’s men held on.
Stat of the Match
Chelsea have lost just three of their 50 matches in all competitions this season.
Where can I watch it?
The title could be decided on Sky Sports 1, with the coverage from Stamford Bridge beginning at 12:30 and kick-off an hour later. Highlights will then be shown on BBC One on Sunday evening on Match of the Day 2 at 10:30pm.
My Prediction: Chelsea 1-0 Crystal Palace
As mentioned, Palace do have history of upsetting big teams, but although it won’t be easy, Chelsea should grind out the win to claim the title at their home ground. Just a 1-0 win though, with Eden Hazard scoring.
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