No stopping Sarri-ball
Chelsea are on a roll, while Palace are on the slide. This Sunday afternoon London derby will go only one way, surely?
The last two occasions the Blues have won the league, they’ve done so on the back of disappointing campaigns the year before. And it appears the same pattern could be on the cards this term. The 5th place finish and constant troubles seen under departing manager Antonio Conte last season now seem a distant memory for the Chelsea faithful enjoying every moment of ‘Sarri-ball’.
The Italian is certainly living up to the tag which credits his fast-paced, possession-based style of attacking football. Not only are Chelsea back to a level of consistency expected of them, they are winning games with a swagger slightly unfamiliar to supporters used to the defensive mindset favoured by previous regimes under messrs Mourinho and Conte.
Chelsea look the real deal
Everything seems to be falling into place for Chelsea at the moment; Eden Hazard looks to have re-focused his mind on London rather than Madrid, while what we’re seeing from a revitalised Ross Barkley is an unexpected but pleasant surprise for supporters and manager alike.
Based on what we’ve seen so far, Chelsea look the real deal and capable of pushing favourites City and Liverpool the distance in the title race. They’ve made light work of dispatching similar opponents to Palace of late – 3-0 at Southampton and 4-0 at Burnley – and I see a scoreline akin to those being recorded on Sunday.
League position: 3rd
Palace fans are becoming accustomed to their side starting slow. One win from their opening ten games last season, has only been bettered by one at the same stage of this campaign. A cluster of draws at least sees The Eagles with twice the number of points (eight) but irrespective of this, another season of struggle surely beckons for Hodgson’s men.
Their problem lies in attack where Christian Benteke barely got going before being ruled out injured until the new year and Wilfried Zaha has struggled for consistency. Yes, they played their part in an entertaining draw with Arsenal but this was only courtesy of two penalties. You couldn’t see Palace scoring otherwise, a scenario not too uncommon this year having drawn blanks in half their fixtures so far.
The same problem contributed to their midweek exit in the League Cup. They had the better of the chances at Middlesbrough but just couldn’t convert. They’ll be lucky to even be afforded those type of chances at Stamford Bridge where Chelsea will be intent on extending their unbeaten start.
The visitors will take a crumb of comfort from holding Arsenal but three defeats on the road already to Watford, Bournemouth and Everton – teams they should really be taking points from – doesn’t bode well for facing a team on another level to them.
League position: 14th
I hadn’t seen much value in backing the hosts but doing so with a -2 Asian handicap seems fairly risk-free in my eyes.
So far, only Manchester City have scored more goals than Chelsea who look set to welcome back the league’s joint top scorer, Hazard from injury. Yet, even if the Belgian fails to recover in time, Chelsea have plenty of attacking threat to see off Palace in comfortable fashion.