Stamford Bridge on Saturday hosts visitors from eight miles across south London for a derby absent in recent years. Club historian Rick Glanvill and club statistician Paul Dutton preview the last home game before Christmas.
Chelsea’s nine-match December continues with the visit of a re-glazed Crystal Palace, and the Blues must hope Tony Pulis’s new side will be putty in their hands by the end 90 minutes.
Stamford Bridge is a formidable arena again these days. It may take a 90-year-old such as former winger Johnny Paton to remind supporters of their power and influence – as our oldest surviving player did against Southampton – but the reality is that this corner of west London is a fortress few can undermine.
Despite the flat second-half performance, that fact was reinforced on Wednesday in the Champions League against Steaua. The 12-point haul that secured Chelsea’s seeding in Monday’s Round of 16 draw (from 11am UK time) was founded on home dominance after a sticky start. And of course Jose Mourinho has his personal record on Fulham Road to defend.
Chelsea are undefeated in the last seven Premier League London derbies, which have brought five wins and two draws. After Wednesday’s European action there are four English teams in the final 16 of Europe’s elite competition with a combined total of 53 group stage points; that is just two off the record set by Spain’s protagonists in 2002/03.
The bare necessities of finishing top of the group were underlined by the possible first knockout round opponents arrayed for two of the Premier League teams, Arsenal and Man City: Atletico Madrid, Barcelona, Real Madrid, Paris St-Germain. Additionally City could face Borussia Dortmund and Arsenal Bayern Munich.
In contrast the potential opposition for group winners Chelsea and Manchester United includes just one current league leader: Olympiacos.
Palace manager Tony Pulis may well have detected a vulnerability in Chelsea’s domestic form despite the progress on all fronts. His new side are very much in form: 10 points in five games, with four clean sheets.
However the former Stoke boss has lost nine of his 11 encounters with Chelsea and drawn two. He has also suggested Palace’s survival will not depend on away matches but their form at Selhurst Park.
As far as he is concerned this is a no-pressure game, with no return expected from this and the next game at Eastlands. However Pulis has also said the current Chelsea is not a team ‘bearing the stamp of Jose Mourinho’ and that is why he will fancy his chances. His predecessor was more worried about ‘losing the spirit of the group’ and promptly resigned.
During his sabbatical away from football Pulis toured historic sights and battlefields around the Crimean peninsula. Do not expect his men to perform a charge of the Light Brigade this weekend.
Perhaps the attritional siege of Sevastapol is more in keeping with his tactical approach. Last season Pulis admitted, ‘We blocked, we obstructed a player. I’m not supposed to be that honest.’
However in a few short weeks he has framed Crystal Palace into relegation escapees primarily by organising Marouane Chamakh and Cameron Jerome upfront and reminding everyone else of their positional duties.
A recent-form league table for the last five games has Crystal Palace in sixth place with an identical record to Chelsea: three wins, one draw and one defeat. The west Londoners are fifth on goal difference. Only Newcastle have won more points over the same period.
This is Crystal Palace’s first trip to Stamford Bridge for nearly nine years. Mourinho was in charge and we were heading for our first Premier League title.
Barclays Premier League fixtures
Manchester City v Arsenal 12.45pm – BT Sport
Cardiff v West Brom 3pm
Chelsea v Crystal Palace 3pm
Everton v Fulham 3pm
Newcastle v Southampton 3pm
West Ham v Sunderland 3pm
Hull v Stoke 5.30pm Sky Sports
Aston Villa v Manchester United 1.30pm – Sky Sports
Norwich v Swansea 1.30pm
Tottenham v Liverpool 4pm – Sky Sports
Chelsea have gained 11 points from losing positions this season, the best record in the Barclays Premier League.
Chelsea have lost just three in the last 75 games against newly promoted teams, in 12 ½ years. We have won 59 of those matches.
We are looking to avoid successive Premier League defeats for the first time since May 2012 when we lost at home to Newcastle and away to Liverpool.
Chelsea have won 13 and drawn three of our last 16 home Premier League games, since QPR won at Stamford Bridge on 2 January.
Chelsea have trailed in three of our last four home league games and have conceded the opening goal in six of our 15 Premier League games to date.
We have kept only one clean sheet in our last 10 Premier League games.
Jose Mourinho is unbeaten at Stamford Bridge in all 82 domestic games in open play. In the Premier League it’s 67 unbeaten.
|Nov 23||West Ham (a)||W 3-0|
|Nov 26||Basel (Champions League a)||L 0-1|
|Dec 1||Southampton (h)||W 3-1|
|Dec 4||Sunderland (a)||W 4-3|
|Dec 7||Stoke (a)||L 2-3|
|Dec 11||Steaua Bucharest (Champions League h)||W 1-0|
Premier League scorers (30)
Hazard 6 (1 pen), Oscar 5, Lampard 4 (1 pen), Schurrle 3, Eto’o 2, Terry 2, Ba 1, Cahill 1, Ivanovic 1, Mikel 1, Torres 1, Willian 1, own goals 2
League games since
A home win: 0
A home draw: 1
A home defeat: 16
|Tue 17 Dec||Sunderland (Capital One Cup) away||7.45pm|
|Mon 23 Dec||Arsenal away||8.00pm|
|Thu 26 Dec||Swansea City home||3.00pm|
Petr Cech’s next clean sheet will be his 150th in the Premier League.
Michael Essien’s next league start will be 150th in the Premier League.
If selected, Eden Hazard will make his 50th Premier League appearance
Frank Lampard’s next converted penalty will be his 50th for the Blues.
CRYSTAL PALACE STATS
None, although they did win the Zenith Data Systems Cup in 1991
Championship – Play-off winners
FA Cup – Third round
Capital One Cup – Second round
The Eagles’ best season was in 1990/91 under Steve Coppell when they finished third to champions Arsenal and runners-up Liverpool.
Palace have only conceded one goal, the fewest in the Premier League, in the last five games, three of which have been won.
The Eagles’ only points away this term came from a win at Hull last month. They have lost the other six to Stoke, Man Utd, Southampton, Liverpool, West Brom and Norwich.
They have scored fewer league goals (10) than any other top-flight club, only three of those away.
Palace have conceded 12 goals in their seven away games, the same as Man Utd and fewer than seven other clubs, including Newcastle and Liverpool.
They have lost 15 points from winning positions and gained none when losing
Manager Tony Pulis
Days in charge: 20
|Nov 2||West Brom (a)||L 0-2|
|Nov 9||Everton (h)||D 0-0|
|Nov 23||Hull (a)||W 1-0|
|Nov 30||Norwich (a)||L 0-1|
|Dec 3||West Ham (h)||W 1-0|
|Dec 7||Cardiff (h)||W 2-0|
Premier League scorers (10)
Chamakh 3, Gayle 2 (1 pen), Bannan 1, Gabbidon 1, Jerome 1, Mariappa 1, O’Keefe 1
League games since
An away win: 1
An away draw: 7
An away defeat: 0
PALACE MAJOR SUMMER MOVES AND AUTUMN LOANS
Ins Stephen Dobbie (Brighton, undisclosed), Dwight Gayle (Peterborough, £6m), Kevin Phillips (Blackpool, free), Jerome Thomas (West Brom, free), Jose Campana (Sevilla, £1.7m), Elliot Grandin (Blackpool, free), Marouane Chamakh (Arsenal, undisclosed), Neil Alexander (Rangers, free), Florian Marange (Bordeaux, free), Jason Puncheon (Southampton, loan), Jimmy Kebe (Reading, undisclosed), Jack Hunt (Huddersfield, undisclosed), Adrian Mariappa (Reading, undisclosed), Barry Bannan (Aston Villa, undisclosed), Cameron Jerome (Stoke, loan), Adlene Guedioura (Nottingham Forest, undisclosed)
Outs Andre Moritz (Bolton, free), Alex Marrow (Blackburn, undisclosed), Peter Ramage (Barsnley, loan), Jermaine Easter (Millwall, free), Stephen Dobbie (Blackpool, loan)
THE MAN IN THE MIDDLE
Mark Clattenburg is the official, his first Chelsea game of the season. His last Blues match was the 2-0 win against Swansea at Stamford Bridge in April.
There are no suspensions.
Branislav Ivanovic is one domestic booking away from a suspension having received four yellow cards this season.
Visit again tomorrow for part two of the Briefing.
– Play Score Predictor for the chance to win December’s prize – a Samsung Galaxy Tab 3.