Chelsea look to con­tinue re­vival against in-form Palace

CityPress - - Sport -

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.

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