Who: Chelsea FC vs. Crystal Palace FC
What: English Premier League Week 16
Where: Stamford Bridge, West London, England, United Kingdom
When: Saturday, December 14, 2013
Weather: The Weather Channel forecast Stamford Bridge
Time: 15:00 GMT/10 a.m. ET/7 a.m. PT
TV: NBC Sports Network,NBC Sports Live Extra (US); BBC One (UK)
Worldwide Livestreams and TV Channels: LiveSoccerTV.com
Radio: SiriusXMFC - Sirius Channel 94 (Internet 94), TalkSport Radio, BBC Radio 5 Live
Referee: Mark Clattenburg
3-Way Odds: Chelsea -600, Crystal Palace +1600, Draw +600
Total: Over 2½ -190, Under 2½ +150
Decimal Odds: Chelsea 1.17, Crystal Palace 17.00, Draw 7.50
Decimal Total: Over 2½ 1.53, Under 2½ 2.50
Fractional Odds: Chelsea 1/6, Crystal Palace 16/1, Draw 13/2
Fractional Total: Over 2½ 10/19, Under 2½ 3/2
Alternate Odds: Chelsea -1½ -170, Crystal Palace +1½ +130
Chelsea -2 Even, Crystal Palace +2 +130
Over 3½ +140, Under 3½ -180
Source: Bovada (Kahnawake, Canada)
3-Way Odds: Chelsea -600, Crystal Palace +1800, Draw +600
Total: Over 3 -115, Under 3 -105
Source: LVH SuperBook (Las Vegas, Nevada, USA)
With a Champions League knockout phase berth safely secured and play in the tournament now over until Feb. 18 when the final 16 clubs will resume play, Chelsea can now concentrate on English Premier League play and that begins Saturday with this London derby against Crystal Palace at Stamford Bridge.
The Blues defeated Steaua Bucharest, 1-0 on Wednesday at home in their last Group E game and won their Champions League group and will now play either Bayer Leverkusen, Olympiakos, AC Milan, Zenit St. Petersburg or Galatasaray and former Chelsea legend Didier Drogba. The draw will take place on Monday at 12:00 CET (6 a.m. ET/3 a.m. PT) in Nyon, Switzerland and will be streamed live at uefa.com.
For Chelsea (9-3-3, 30 points) and manager Jose Mourinho, a win here against 19th-place Crystal Palace (4-1-10, 13 points) is imperative and also a good chance to pick up a couple of points or so on some of the league’s top contenders, with Manchester City hosting first-place Arsenal at the Etihad Stadium on Saturday (NBCSN, 7:45 a.m. ET/4:45 a.m. PT) and Liverpool paying a visit to White Hart Lane and Tottenham Hotspur on Sunday (NBCSN, 11 a.m. ET/8 a.m. PT).
Taking a shot and betting the Eagles here at +1600 is very tempting and with new manager Tony Pulis, freshly Championship promoted Crystal Palace could provide to be very dangerous opponents for the Europa League champions, who seem to go through periods of playing both good and bad soccer—a seemingly three-year long trend now for the collection of old and young stars in West London.
Striker Marouane Chamakh (3 goals) is the Glaziers' top scoring threat and the 29-year-old Moroccan striker and Cameron Jerome both scored goals in Palace’s 2-0 win over Cardiff City last weekend at Selhurst Park. And with guys like Mile Jedinak, Barry Bannan and Kagisho Dikgacoi, Pulis does have some talent at his disposal in South Norwood.
But no matter how hard one tries to make a case for Palace in this fixture, it’s hard to back a club which has been outscored 22-10 on the season, is 1-0-6 away (3-12 goals), has no player with more than one assist and has scored less goals so far as a team (10) than both Liverpool’s Luis Suarez (15) and City’s Sergio Aguero (12).
And if you’re thinking a draw (+600) could be in the works here, remember that Palace has tied just one game so far this season—the least number in the Premier League.
Chelsea will enter the weekend in third place on the Premier League table and the Blues are 5-1-0 against the Eagles in the last six meetings, outscoring them by a healthy 16-3 margin over that span, so 34-year-old Argentinian Palace goalkeeper Julian Speroni will definitely be peppered by the home side’s attack, which is tied for the third-most goals in the league (30) with Arsenal.
So despite the constant chirping about the strikers and the starting XI’s for the Blues, they are actually scoring enough goals and getting offense from almost everyone on their roster, a good thing with goalkeeper Petr Cech allowing three goals in consecutive EPL matches against Stoke City and Sunderland, immediately making the name of Thibaut Courtois crop up on the lips of Chelsea fans worldwide.
As expected when The Special One returned to SW6, Chelsea is still dominant at home (6-1-0, 17-6 goals) so putting away an opponent like Palace is pretty much a foregone conclusion here and the odds (-600) certainly speak to that probability.
What will happen Saturday?
Mourinho has shown a tendency to go with unexpected starting lineups so who knows who he’ll put out there on Saturday but it seems striker Fernando Torres is overdue to get some playing time and after Mark Schwarzer’s appearance in goal against Steaua, no doubt Cech gets the start here and tries to get back on form in league play.
So with the defensive burps and striker hiccups, the deep and talented attacking and central midfielders will have to be the core hopefully for just the immediate future and with players like Frank Lampard, Juan Mata and Eden Hazard, Chelsea should still be in the thick of the title race this coming winter and spring.
Despite the disparity in the clubs heading in, the Blues should end up playing another slog-through game like they did against Steaua mid-week and edge the visitors by a goal or two. Palace games are 11-4 to the Under heading in here and I think that either Chamakh or Jerome again get a goal for the Eagles while legend Lampard tallies another one for Chelsea as does the speedy Hazard.
The Over 2½ is the only appealing angle to me but hard to bet after the moneyline on the Over went from -155 to -190 in less than two days at Bovada. Here in Las Vegas, the LVH SuperBook has the total set at 3 but with the arrival of cold weather and Chelsea maybe a little bit tired from their Champions League games, it’s hard to see an explosion of goals at The Bridge on Saturday.
After this one, the Blues are quickly back at it again on Tuesday with a Capital One Cup quarterfinals showdown with Sunderland at the Stadium of Light, then next up on the schedule is a much-anticipated Premier League derby six days later with league-leaders Arsenal on Dec. 23 at the Emirates Stadium.
PREDICTION: Chelsea 2 Crystal Palace 1
BET: Chelsea-Crystal Palace Over 2½ -190
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