Football Previews

Chelsea vs Crystal Palace predictions: Five things we think will happen

By Ben Green

Published: 19:00, 2 October 2020 | Updated: 9:18, 23 October 2020

Chelsea will pit their wits against London opposition for the second game running as Crystal Palace visit Stamford Bridge in the Premier League on Saturday.

Despite spending eye-watering sums this transfer window, Chelsea are yet to really find any rhythm or fluidity this season. Frank Lampard’s side had to come from behind to secure a 3-3 draw with West Bromwich Albion last weekend and were knocked out of the League Cup in midweek by Tottenham Hotspur on penalties.

Roy Hodgson’s side have started the campaign in complete contrast to how they ended last season. Eight winless games, including seven defeats, to conclude 2019/20 was simply dire, but big wins over Southampton and Manchester United have restored optimism on the terraces (I mean living rooms).

Can the Eagles pull off a second giant-killing of the season? Or will the hosts finish the game with points to chirp about and a performance worthy of their vast expenditure?

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1. Tammy Abraham to start

Hakim Ziyech is still yet to return from injury, which indirectly makes Tammy Abraham a likely candidate to lead the line for Chelsea. The English striker started and scored in the 3-3 draw with West Brom last weekend and came off the bench against Tottenham in the League Cup.

But even if Werner has recovered fully from the cramp he suffered at the end of that game, Abraham might still be selected at the head of Chelsea’s attack with the German playing on the wing as he did in the past two games. Olivier Giroud is the only other striking option for Chelsea (save playing Havertz as a false nine again) but the Frenchman started on Tuesday and may be unlikely to return to the XI this weekend.

Crystal Palace predicted XI: Guiata; Ward, Kouyate, Sakho, Mitchell; Townsend, McCarthy, McArthur, Eze; Ayew, Zaha.

Chelsea predicted XI: Mendy; James, Christensen, Silva, Chilwell; Kante, Kovacic; Mount, Havertz, Werner; Abraham.

2. Chelsea to win the first half

Crystal Palace netted just six seven goals in the first half of matches since the start of last season. Only Sheffield United (four) and relegated Norwich (two) found the back of the net on fewer occasions. Under the same conditions, they managed 24 shots on target, also the second-lowest total of any Premier League team to have played in both campaigns.

Overall, Palace on the other hand netted the lowest number of first half goals last term (10). Even low-hitters Norwich, who went down having bagged a measly 26 goals, outscored Palace for first-half finishes (14).

It must also be said that Palace currently lead Chelsea on first-half goals this season by three strikes to one, but we expect the wider pattern to reassert itself on Saturday.

Relevant Sky Bet odds:

  • Chelsea to win the first half – 10/11
  • Chelsea to score two or more goals in the first half – 5/2
  • Chelsea to win both halves – 9/4

3. Palace to break 20-tackle mark

This game could be a classic case of attack versus defence. In fact, we’re pretty confident it will be. Palace have profited under Hodgson from a counter-attacking strategy, which has paid dividends on numerous occasions, and against a club of Chelsea’s ilk, it could thrive yet again.

In the 3-1 win over Man Utd earlier this season, Palace registered a quite alarming 24.2 per cent possession, and yet they left Old Trafford with all three points and having scored three goals (something they failed to do in any game across 2019/20).

The diligent midfield partnership of James McArthur and James McCarthy, a hard-hitting double-pivot forged in Glasgow but refined in Croydon, worked perfectly to scupper any attacking rhythm Man Utd tried to create, as they safeguarded the backline.

Chelsea should dominate the ball like their Manchester counterparts, but that lion’s share of possession will not equate to tangible final-third success unless they can break through Palace’s midfield bulwark. With that, we expect plenty of challenges to fly in from the visitors, and not much blue to be left on their shorts come the final whistle.

Relevant Sky Bet odds:

  • Crystal Palace 20+ Tackles – 1/1
  • Crystal Palace 21+ Tackles – 5/4
  • Crystal Palace 28+ Tackles – 6/1

4. Wilfried Zaha to continue hot streak

Wilfried Zaha has started the season like a house on fire and will be champing at the bit to get back on the scoresheet after firing a blank last time out. Prior to the Everton defeat, the Ivorian had netted in back-to-back games for the first time since November last season.

Disappointingly, Zaha only netted four Premier League goals last term; he’s already on three this season. Coupled with the way Chelsea set up, he could have a field day if they commit bodies forward and frustration starts to creep in.

Ultimately, that’s where Palace prosper. Although they themselves set up in a fairly rigid defensive shape, opposition teams tend to shy away from pushing too high up the pitch, as Zaha and Andros Townsend are lying in wait to spring devastating counters.

The 27-year-old is experiencing a slight purple patch at the minute and we fully expect him to make the most of Chelsea’s leaky backline. He scored against the Blues at Selhurst Park just two months ago, and should follow up this weekend.

Relevant Sky Bet odds:

  • Wilfried Zaha to score first – 17/2
  • Wilfried Zaha to score last – 17/2
  • Wilfried Zaha to score anytime – 3/1

5. Chelsea to win

Although Palace should put up a spirited fight, one reminiscent of their 3-2 reversal in July, Lampard simply cannot afford to see more points drop by the wayside. In fact, one could argue that he needs not only a win but also an encouraging performance.

With such an elite armoury, Lampard is expected to not only pick up points regularly but to do so in style. Liverpool and Man City have realigned the Premier League standards in recent years, proving that results and nice football can coexist.

And, we should be in for a treat on Saturday: Chelsea’s frail rearguard versus the venom and panache of Zaha. But, ultimately this should be a game in which Chelsea get the job done. Lampard must have learnt his lesson from last week and will certainly look to tighten up, right? We think so.

Perhaps a hybrid of the Liverpool game (where they were too defensive) and the West Brom game (where they were far too attacking) will manifest at Stamford Bridge, as Lampard continues to try and establish his best system. Either way, Werner and Co. should help him along, regardless of formation. Palace are on a five-game losing streak against Chelsea, and that pattern should continue.

Relevant Sky Bet odds:

  • Chelsea to win – 2/5
  • Chelsea to win and both teams to score – 2/1
  • Chelsea to win and over 2.5 goals – 1/1


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