Guus Hiddink must be pinching himself, trying to decide if this is a dream or a nightmare. No one can quite believe that the current champions are this bad—likewise, few believe relegation is a realistic threat. Something feels broken at Stamford Bridge, and fans must be wishing the season over so it can be fixed. Fortunately for the Blues, Pardew’s Crystal Palace aren’t in their best form. Two scoreless draws against Bournemouth and Swansea have threatened to derail Palace’s great first half of the season—and as pointed out by Patrick Bamford, their strikers have been little help. Neither side particularly look like scoring at the moment, but it’s a derby and that means all bets are off.
Ivanovic seemed to be badly affected by whatever mind-virus was going around Stamford Bridge in Mourinho’s last days—like several of his teammates, his fall from form has been spectacular. Once hailed as probably the best right back in the league, he has been a liability all too often this season—although things look to have improved a little under the new manager. His performance against Manchester United was arguably his best of the season and must know that he’s playing for pride and reputation as much as a league place now.
The Australian international put in a great defensive performance against Swansea, and Palace’s captain must be relishing the thought of going up against Fabregas, who looks like his heart isn’t in it anymore. Guus Hiddink has already moved to quell suggestions the Spaniard has submitted a transfer request but things are far from rosy. Jedinak kept Palace’s midfield strong despite absences and led his team by example—in sharp contrast with Fabregas.
With Connor Wickham and Yannick Bolasie injured, Patrick Bamford cutting his loan spell short and Yohan Cabaye suspended, it’s going to be tough for Palace to play their free-scoring game. A lot of pressure rests on Marouane Chamakh, only recently back in the side following injury. It’s difficult to see the Moroccan beating Zouma or Terry in the air—he will need his teammates to drag Chelsea’s defenders out of position to find goalscoring chances. Easier said than done.
Labelled as one of the ‘3 Rats’, Costa did something that Chelsea’s strikers haven’t been able to do against Watford—actually score a goal! He managed two, and although it wasn’t enough to win the game, FLIP Sports reckons he’s due a return to form. With Eden Hazard, Willian and Oscar all struggling though, who’s going to provide the assist?