Club historian Rick Glanvill and club statistician Paul Dutton focus further on our meeting with the south Londoners…
WE HAVE HISTORY
Chelsea are looking to extend our unbeaten league run against Crystal Palace to 13 games. This game was first played in the FA Cup soon into Chelsea’s debut season, 1905/06. A clash with a league fixture the same day meant that manager Jacky Robertson sent a reserve side of five debutants to Sydenham, only to lose 1-7 in front of 3,000. (The first team meanwhile secured two precious points at home to Burnley.)
Over many decades there was just the one league meeting in south London, a Division Two clash in April 1925.
The Sixties, Seventies and Eighties brought more regular contact. The scoreline from Chelsea’s first top-flight visit to Selhurst Park, the day after Boxing Day 1969, barely told the story of the fight the hosts had put up that afternoon on a rough, sludgy pitch.
The Glaziers’ Scottish forward Gerry Queen surprisingly opened the scoring little more than quarter of an hour in for Bert Head’s side with a shot deflected off Ron Harris. But the high-flying neighbours from west London were level 20 minutes later when Peter Osgood reacted swiftest with his head when goalie John Jackson palmed John Hollins’s fierce drive invitingly upwards.
It was still 1-1 at half-time and, indeed, until 25 minutes from the end, despite enormous pressure from the buoyant visitors. Finally, though, Roger Hynd interfered with a Peter Houseman cross that otherwise looked destined for Jackson’s hands.
The header merely proffered another chance for Ossie, which he gleefully accepted. Fortunately Bartley Homewood then showed leniency as Osgood completely lost his head and instigated a mass brawl. The referee called the captains together for a stern ticking off rather than issuing the expected marching orders for Chelsea’s star striker.
Osgood would later tell fans his favourite opponent was the Crystal Palace keeper and, thus reprieved, he went on to fill his boots with two more strikes to make four on the day – his best return for the club up to that date.
With fewer than five minutes remaining David Webb caroused down the wing and delivered a cross for Houseman to complete a 5-1 rout that had seemed unlikely much of the afternoon.
‘This was a fabulous Chelsea and it left Palace wondering and fearful,’ suggested the Daily Mail’s Roy Peskett. Such emotions were justified as a couple of months later Dave Sexton’s men returned in the FA Cup and triumphed again.
This time it was 4-1, with Osgood (pictured below) and Houseman, John Dempsey and Ian Hutchinson on the scoresheet for the Pensioners, Roger Hoy grabbing Palace’s consolation. Chelsea went on to win the cup for the first time.
The Eagles’ most recent win against us was in August 1990 at Selhurst Park. Steve Coppell led Palace to a 2-1 victory with goals from Andy Gray (penalty) and Ian Wight. Tony Dorigo scored a late consolation for Bobby Campbell’s Blues.
That was the only Palace league win in the last 32 years although they did defeat us 3-1 at Selhurst Park in the Coca-Cola Cup quarter final in 1993.
We have won our last five league encounters with a 17-4 goals aggregate.
Our last 10 league meetings at Selhurst Park
1982/83 – Drew 0-0 – Old Division 2
1983/84 – Chelsea won 1-0 – Old Division 2
1988/89 – Drew 1-1 – Old Division 2
1989/90 – Drew 2-2 – Old Division 1
1990/91 – Palace won 2-1 – Old Division 1
1991/92 – Drew 0-0 – Old Division 1
1992/93 – Drew 1-1 – Premier League
1994/95 – Chelsea won 1-0 – Premier League
1997/98 – Chelsea won 3-0 – Premier League
2004/05 – Chelsea won 2-0 – Premier League
The reverse fixture this season
14 December 2013 Barclays Premier League
Chelsea………..……2 Crystal Palace.………….…1
Torres 16 Chamakh 29
Chelsea v Crystal Palace in all competitions
Games played 43
Chelsea wins 20
Palace wins 8
Head to head in the League at Selhurst Park
Games played 16
Chelsea wins 7
Palace wins 3
Biggest league win at Selhurst Park for each team
Crystal Palace 1-5 Chelsea – 27/12/1969
Crystal Palace 2-0 Chelsea – 31/03/1973
Chelsea lost to Crystal Palace: 8,614
Crystal Palace scored a goal in open play: 49
Arsenal won a trophy: 3,234
Liverpool won the league: 8,729
Willian returns from suspension this weekend but Ramires misses out again and against Stoke on 5 April. The players who replaced them against Arsenal both excelled, Andre Schurrle the instigator of the Blues’ explosive start – setting up the first and scoring the second – and David Luiz flawless alongside the ever-impressive Nemanja Matic in centre midfield.
Previously, in partnership with Frank Lampard or Ramires, David Luiz would play on the left. Since the Serbian’s return, though, he has switched to the right and the fulcrum looks better balanced in its two highly successful outings (plus a few minutes against Man United) at the Etihad and in the demolition of Arsenal.
David Luiz is at his best anticipating and intercepting, harassing opponents from behind and driving play forward. Those assets dovetail with Matic’s prowling and probing and are essential to Mourinho’s system of advanced pressing and a high defensive line.
With seven goals in 10 league starts, Schurrle currently offers a greater goal threat than the energetic Willian, whose two Premier League goals have come as a substitute, and in any case Jose Mourinho may opt for a greater physical presence against a Tony Pulis team.
With his maiden goal off the bench at the Bridge last weekend, the lightning fast Mohamed Salah (like Matic ineligible for midweek in Paris) can now banish memories of his debut match misses.
The hamstring twinge Sammy Eto’o felt early in the Arsenal game rules him out this weekend, but his replacement Fernando Torres was looking sharper after his return from injury and is still the only Blues striker to have netted away from home this season. With PSG on the near horizon, Demba Ba may also have some involvement.
In the corresponding home game against Palace it was Torres who opened the scoring in a 2-1 victory. The man who started as no.10 in behind Torres, Juan Mata, was withdrawn for Oscar around the hour mark. Chelsea only just out-shot the visitors – eight attempts on targets compared to six – despite controlling most of the game.
How will Palace line-up this time? In late February they hosted Manchester United, perhaps surprisingly the top flight’s best away side, and gave an indication of Pulis’s thinking against higher-placed visitors. He fielded a 4-4-1-1 formation with bustling former Arsenal forward Marouane Chamakh (who equalised at the Bridge) behind 30-year-old target man Glenn Murray.
More recently, in his search for goals and with Chamakh absent, Pulis has tried Joe Ledley, Dwight Gayle and Cameron Jerome in those roles. They have, however, managed just one goal in the last five games: a late equalising penalty by Murray at Swansea. Gayle is ruled out through injury.
Pulis likes to involve wingers and his resources include former Saints man Jason Puncheon, the sought-after Tom Ince and winger Yannick Bolasie (pictured below with Fernando Torres), who looked very lively in last weekend’s late defeat at Newcastle.
They defend deep with two well-drilled banks of four, and aim to break quickly down the flanks when they have the ball. Like all Pulis sides they are very aggressive and play on the front foot, keep the opposition keeper busy by carving out shooting opportunities as soon as possible, often from outside the box.
Defensively Pulis has tightened things up simply by creating order where there was chaos under Ian Holloway. Usually that means Damien Delaney and Scott Dann, recruited from Blackburn in January, in central defence, with veteran Danny Gabbidon removed to the bench.
As was sometimes the case with Robert Huth at Stoke, Pulis employs centre-half Adrian Mariappa as a right back. Full-back Joel Ward is occasionally pushed into a midfield role. No Pulis side ever lacks strength or height.
Palace’s outstanding performer this season has been goalkeeper Julian Speroni, who has managed eight clean sheets in the league. The Argentinean repelled everything the Magpies could throw at him last weekend until the fifth minute of stoppage time.
His shot-stopping underpinned the Glaziers’ revival under Pulis – they were 14th in early February after an impressive sequence including three successive home victories.
Three defeats and two draws since then have reopened relegation’s trapdoor and they are currently fourth from bottom, and will be desperate for a result.