Chelsea v Crystal Palace
Live on BT Sport 1
Chelsea yet to iron out defensive frailties
Chelsea have underlined their ambition by spending £200m in the transfer market since the end of last season and Frank Lampard will be under pressure to achieve significant progress with their expensively-assembled squad. Kai Havertz and Timo Werner should provide plenty of goals in their attack while Ben Chilwell, Thiago Silva and new goalkeeper Edouard Mendy will be expected to improve Chelsea's suspect defence.
It is too early to judge their arrivals but the early signs still suggest Chelsea have defensive deficiencies to resolve. An opening win at Brighton was followed by a 2-0 home defeat to champions Liverpool. But Chelsea's weaknesses at the back were all too apparent last weekend after trailing West Brom 3-0 at half-time. Silva was culpable for one of the goals and Lampard's side needed three second-half goals to salvage a 3-3 draw. Chelsea rotated their squad on Tuesday night, as Werner scored his first goal, but Tottenham knocked them out of the EFL Cup on penalties following a 1-1 draw.
Promising start for Hodgson's Palace
Crystal Palace ended last season with a worrying run of defeats but Roy Hodgson's side have allayed fears of a prolonged struggle with a promising start to the new campaign. The Eagles defeated Southampton 1-0 in their opening match before an excellent 3-1 victory at Manchester United. Andros Townsend opened the scoring but Wilfried Zaha was the match winner as he netted twice in the final 20 minutes to punish his former club.
Palace suffered their first defeat last weekend but their 2-1 loss to Everton at Selhurst Park was mired in controversy. Hodgson was understandably furious with the handball law which resulted in Joel Ward unintentionally conceding a penalty for Richarlison's winner. The hosts were competitive in defeat and new attacker Eberechi Eze caught the eye with a positive display on his full league debut.
Chelsea short enough for victory
Chelsea are obvious favourites for this weekend's game but their start to the season suggests a degree of caution should be urged before piling on at odds of just 1.454/9. Their failure to defeat West Brom was a shock and is a warning although their record against Palace is strong. Chelsea have won their last five league clashes against the Eagles and will be expected to continue this run at Stamford Bridge.
Crystal Palace are 8.615/2 outsiders but cannot be written off for this contest. Hodgson's side have already upset Manchester United and the visitors have the pace on the break to cause Chelsea problems. Palace should not be underestimated but their price is not quite big enough to persuade me to side with them.
The draw is available at 5.04/1 but history is against this outcome. None of the last 18 league meetings have ended in a draw, with the Blues winning 14 of these matches. Chelsea are fancied to justify favouritism with a home win but their price looks short enough and it is worth turning to other markets to secure a better bet.
Chelsea always give teams a chance and there is every reason to think Crystal Palace can get on the scoresheet. The Blues have conceded six goals in three league games this season and are still looking for their first clean sheet. Lampard will expect his defence to improve but it could take time before the new arrivals such as Silva adapt to playing in the Premier League.
Crystal Palace will be confident in their own ability to score, regardless of the weaknesses in the Chelsea defence. The Eagles have found the net in each league match with Zaha, who has three goals, looking sharper than for much of last season. Ultimately, Chelsea look the most likely winners but the most appealing way of backing the favourites is to combine a home victory with both teams scoring at 9/5.
Crystal Palace's Zaha has been involved in six goals in his 12 Premier League games against Chelsea (three goals, three assists) - against no side has he had a hand in more goals in the competition. Zaha is 7/2 to score against Chelsea this weekend.
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