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Premier League Preview: Crystal Palace vs Chelsea

Mar 28, 2014, 6:37 PM EST

Hazard AP
  • Eden Hazard has 14 goals this Premier League season. Crystal Palace has scored 13 all year at Selhurst Park (19 overall).
  • Crystal Palace have four fixtures against top-five teams in their final eight matches.
  • Chelsea has not lost to Crystal Palace in 23 years.

With Manchester City in control of their Premier League destiny, Chelsea have to avoid dropping points against Crystal Palace during their trip to Selhurst Park at 11am ET tomorrow morning on NBCSN and live online at NBC Sports Live Extra.  Anything less than three points would be a disappointment after their 6-0 dismantling of the Gunners.

The Sky Blues have to make a trip to Arsenal this weekend, and that could provide an opening for Chelsea to regain control of the title race if they can hang on across London.

Crystal Palace has hardly proven a threat in front of goal this year, but their stout defense is what Tony Pulis has built his foundation for a battle against relegation on. They remain in 17th, just three points from the drop, and their schedule is daunting down the stretch.

But with the Eagles having registered one goal in their last five matches – a penalty – they face a Blues squad that hasn’t conceded a penalty in 48 matches and counting.

On top of things, Marouane Chamakh is doubtful for the match, meaning Glenn Murray or Camerone Jerome would deputize up front. Dwight Gayle is also out. On the other side, Samuel Eto’o is likely out with a hamstring problem, so Fernando Torres is likely to replace his injured teammate. Ashley Cole is also out injured.

What they’re saying:

Tony Pulis on Palace’s chances: “If you’re looking at the balance of the two clubs and what they have and haven’t got it is a very uneven contest. But football is a funny old game, if we set ourselves up well and give everything we possibly can…you never know. If you put our players up against their players individually I don’t think there are many of our players who would get into their team. But collectively, as a group and as a team, if you are working together and putting things in place you can make it difficult for them.”

Hazard on Eto’o influence: “Every day he tells me that I have to be among the best players in the world. In each game, he keeps telling me that I have to make the difference. He says: ‘You can’t leave the stadium without having scored a goal. Before, I said to myself that I was just going to play football. If we won and I didn’t score, never mind. Now, I say to myself that that is also football: always score, always show you can do things.”

Mourinho on difficulty losing: “One of the things I learn is that you can win, you can lose, and if you lose in the right way you have to move on and try not to lose again. Try to learn from the mistakes. But think about the next match. But I never learned or accept to lose that way [like we did against Aston Villa]. I learn how to lose with a bad performance, because the opponent were better and praise them.”

Prediction:

With all their goalscoring difficulties, it’s hard to see Crystal Palace managing a score without a flukey discombobulation in Chelsea’s defense. The only way Palace can pull spoils from this match would be in a 0-0 scoreline, and it’s difficult to see Chelsea not scoring in this one.  Mourinho’s men go up 2-0 comfortably in the first half before the manager brings on John Obi Mikel to shut up shop for the victory.  Hazard scores, much to Eto’o’s delight.

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