There was fanciful talk of Palace making it into Europe after comfortably seeing off Bournemouth on their return to action, but subsequent defeats to Liverpool (4-0), Burnley (1-0) and Leicester (3-0) have allowed reality to settle back in.
The biggest concern for Palace is crystal clear as only relegation-bound Norwich have a worse output this season.
They’ve managed just six goals in 10 games now, with all six coming against bottom-half outfits and four of them against the bottom six.
They’ve now lost without scoring in five of their last seven versus the top five in the table, going down 2-0 in three of them including the reverse of this fixture.
Chelsea To Beat Palace To Nil
Chelsea’s defence may not exactly be watertight, but they had some high-scoring encounters early in the campaign and have been more effective of late.
Indeed, whereas they conceded a minimum of two goals in five of their opening six league fixtures, across all competitions they’ve now won six of seven matches since March and kept clean sheets against Liverpool, Everton, Leicester and Watford.
While Chelsea have shown their weakness at set pieces, being the worst at defending them in the league this season, the return of Kurt Zouma to the starting line up against Watford seemed to counteract this susceptibility.
Those four clean sheets all saw the Frenchman start at centre back as the Blues look a far more solid outfit with him there.
With that in mind, we’d put Chelsea’s defeat in their last road trip to West Ham down to a bad day at the office and current form suggests a comfortable win, especially as only one side has something to play for here.
Chelsea To Beat Palace 2-0
Given Palace have failed to score in 11 of their 13 defeats this season, with four finishing 1-0 and another four ending 2-0, those would appear the most likely scorelines.
Although priced the same, 2-0 appears a better prospect than 1-0. Chelsea have been excellent going forwards of late and in their last 14 fixtures across all competitions, only Man Utd, Bayern Munich and Leicester have prevented them from scoring twice, with the Foxes the only side to do so in Chelsea’s last eight.
Roy Hodgson isn’t going to spring a tactical surprise on anyone here and we’d expect this game to follow the pattern of Palace’s last outing at Leicester.
The Eagles were set up not to concede, but once their opponents had found the breakthrough, set pieces appeared the only way they were going to fashion chances with limited creativity on display.
Chelsea may need to exhibit patience should the early goal not come, but once they’ve eventually got their noses out in front, Palace are unlikely to possess the tools to peg them back.