A traditional Saturday 3pm kick-off draws near and club historian Rick Glanvill and club statistician Paul Dutton complete their traditional look at the game…
WE HAVE HISTORY
Chelsea are looking to extend our unbeaten league run against Crystal Palace to 12 games. Their last win was in August 1990 at Selhurst Park. We have won our last four league encounters with a 15-3 goals aggregate.
Meetings against the Glaziers go right back to Chelsea’s first season, with an FA Cup third preliminary round tie at Sydenham on 18 November 1905 causing a particular stir. The newly formed Pensioners had a league game scheduled for the same day and the authorities would not allow an exemption. So player-manager Jacky Robertson fielded a second string in the cup against Palace, who understandably ran out 7-1 winners in front of 3,000 spectators.
‘It is easily understood that Chelsea have high hopes of promotion to the First Division but, nevertheless, the national Cup should be treated with a little more respect,’ sniffed the Daily Mirror, warning: ‘It will be a bad thing for them when the claims for exemption for the qualifying rounds come to be considered next year.’
Meanwhile, kicking off half an hour later, the first team had won the more crucial league duel with Burnley 1-0 in front of 8,000 at the Bridge thanks to Bob McRoberts. The result put London’s newest side third in Division Two, three ahead of the Lancastrians.
The Blues’ biggest home victory in this fixture came in March 1998, early in the reign of Gianluca Vialli. The new player-manager was already enjoying great success in cups but his first three league games had not produced a single Chelsea goal.
When Hermann Hreidarsson opened the scoring on seven minutes for the visitors some west Londoners began to fear the worst. Instead the early setback prodded the Italian and his men into action. In an attacking frenzy typical of that team, Vialli, from a corner, and his compatriot Gianfranco Zola, rounding keeper Kevin Miller, turned the game on its head in just three minutes.
On the stroke of half-time the player-manager pounced on Miller’s fumble to dash the ball into an empty net and make it 3-1 to the hosts. From there the Blues went a long period without going for the kill, over-elaborating with the ball.
Then, five minutes from the end, Dennis Wise struck a fourth before Marcus Bent restored some hope for Palace. The flurry continued through Vialli’s replacement, Tore Andre Flo, who hit a brace to make the final score 6-2 to Chelsea.
The Eagles only league win at the Bridge came in the old Second Division in March 1982. Only 13,894 witnessed a 2-1 win for Palace with first-half goals from Kevin Mabbutt and future Chelsea player Jerry Murphy. Alan Mayes replied in the second period for the Blues. Chelsea old boys Steve Wicks and Tommy Langley were in the Palace line up that day and Steve Kember was their manager. Nine of Chelsea’s 12 that played were home grown.
Chelsea are unbeaten against Crystal Palace at Stamford Bridge in the top flight.
Our last 10 league meetings at Stamford Bridge
1982/83 – Drew 0-0
1983/84 – Drew 2-2
1988/89 – Chelsea won 1-0
1989/90 – Chelsea won 3-0
1990/91 – Chelsea won 2-1
1991/92 – Drew 1-1
1992/93 – Chelsea won 3-1
1994/95 – Drew 0-0
1997/98 – Chelsea won 6-2
2004/05 – Chelsea won 4-1
Chelsea v Crystal Palace in all competitions
Games played 42
Chelsea wins 19
Palace wins 8
Head to head in the League at Stamford Bridge
Games played 16
Chelsea wins 7
Palace wins 1
Biggest league win at Stamford Bridge for each team
Chelsea 6-2 Crystal Palace – 11/03/1998
Chelsea 1-2 Crystal Palace – 17/03/1982
Chelsea lost a London derby: 346
Crystal Palace last played at Stamford Bridge: 3,192
Arsenal won a trophy: 3,129
Liverpool won the league: 8,624
Jose Mourinho will reshuffle his pack again this weekend, with Demba Ba likely to stand down after playing against Steaua in midweek. After his bright cameo, Kevin De Bruyne may have to wait until Wednesday’s Capital One Cup trip to Sunderland for further involvement. As will Mark Schwarzer, despite keeping the Blues’ first clean sheet since West Ham away.
Ashley Cole will be rested for midweek with the left-back slot going to Cesar Azpilicueta and height may be a consideration, as Stoke last weekend were an average six centimetres taller than the Blues and dominated set-plays. Palace are also strong in the air where, as Mourinho sanguine observed, skill is not an advantage.
Since Tony Pulis came into the frame, Palace have been vastly better organised generally and especially at corners and free-kicks. They are newly well-drilled so that everyone on the field knows what is expected of them.
They remain just as direct but less chaotic as under Ian Holloway, marginally less reliant on wings and crosses. The new manager has said he felt the newly-promoted team had previously been showing opponents too much respect. That is not an accusation that was levelled at his Stoke teams.
They shoot on sight of goal, and conceding chances on the edge of the box has been a weakness of Chelsea’s recent performances.
The Eagles’ most vulnerable area is central midfield, where deep-lying player Mile Jedinak can be hurried and his use of ball exposed, and his partner Kagisho Dikgacoi can act rashly under pressure. Both regularly play the ball long.
With Pulis’s 4-4-1-1 formation Marouane Chamakh has been playing a withdrawn striker role behind powerful centre-forward Cameron Jerome (pictured below playing for Birmingham), and both have revelled in the new responsibilities. David Luiz, returned from injury, will partner John Terry in the centre against them.
Damien Delaney is a highly focused central defender and forms a physical if unsubtle central defensive core to the side. Right-back Joel Ward likes to dribble with the ball but will do well to avoid leaving vital space behind him against Chelsea.
In an often prosaic performance against Steaua, Eden Hazard again produced the edge-of-seat moments that could smash the Glaziers’ resistance. After two consecutive away league games Mourinho will be determined to press the advantage ahead of the next top-flight trip to the Emirates.
– Tune in for exclusive pre-match build-up and live commentary on Chelsea TV. Sky customers can watch the pre-match show for free on channel 421.