Chelsea look to continue revival against in-form Palace
Chelsea will look to continue their mini revival when they take on high-flying Crystal Palace at Selhurst Park in London, while Everton host a fighting-fit Tottenham Hotspur in today’s Premier League action.
The Blues have been uncharacteristically poor this season, but have been somewhat better since José Mourinho was replaced by Guus Hiddink as the club’s manager on December 19.
Since Mourinho was removed, Chelsea have gone three games unbeaten, winning one and drawing two, to move away from relegation, but they still occupy a relatively disappointing 14th position on the league table halfway into their defence of the title.
Palace have experienced almost the complete opposite season to their opponents and are in a lofty fifth position in the standings, something even the most optimistic Eagles fan could have only dreamt of at the start of the campaign.
Another significant feather in the home side’s cap is how well they have managed to recover from a dip in form in October, when they lost three fixtures in a row and went four games without a win.
Many simply saw it as a return to parity and predicted doom and gloom, but since then they have lost just one of nine Premier League games, and took an impressive 2-1 win over Liverpool.
Bakary Sako and Dwight Gayle (both hamstring) are major doubts for the match today, while Connor Wickham (calf) and Yannick Bolasie (hip) are only expected to return later this month.
Chelsea striker Radamel Falcao has suffered a recurrence of his thigh injury that looks set to keep him out for at least another month, while Hiddink remains hopeful that Cesc Fàbregas will recover from the illness that kept him out of the match against Manchester United.
Up north, Tottenham Hotspur travel to Merseyside to tackle an Everton side that has struggled to win games, despite some strong performances on the pitch.
The Toffees will not be happy with their current 11th position in the standings and will be well aware of how different things could have been if one or two factors had gone their way.
Everton have won just one of their past six league games, but three of them were draws, and the two losses, 3-2 to Leicester and 4-3 to Stoke, were highscoring affairs that could have gone either way.
However, that is how things go in football sometimes, and Spurs would do well not to underestimate their opponents this weekend based on their results alone.
Tottenham have only lost two Premier League games all season, equal fewest in the division with Leicester, and boast both the best defensive record and goal difference halfway through the season, so confidence is unlikely to be an issue for the London club unless it starts moving towards arrogance.