Simon Mail previews Saturday's early kick-off with Chelsea bidding to clinch their sixth consecutive Premier League victory with a win over Crystal Palace...
Chelsea v Crystal Palace Saturday, 12:30 Live on BT Sport 1
Lampard's young team showing great potential
Chelsea came into this season with relatively low expectations after the departure of Eden Hazard and the transfer ban limiting their ability to revamp the squad. But Frank Lampard has revelled in the chance to take charge of the club, after his legendary playing career at Stamford Bridge, with his faith in Chelsea's young players paying off handsomely.
The Blues have climbed up to fourth after a run of five successive wins in the Premier League and this exciting team look well-placed, despite the pre-season concerns, to secure Champions League football again next season. Striker Tammy Abraham has been a revelation, with ten goals in all competitions, while Mason Mount has warranted his international place for England after excelling in Chelsea's midfield.
Chelsea have been prolific scorers, especially away from home, with a 4-2 win at Burnley followed by a 2-1 victory at bottom side Watford last weekend. Their speed on the counter-attack looks extremely well suited to catching teams out on the road. Lampard's Chelsea were involved in an extraordinary 4-4 draw at home to Ajax in Europe on Tuesday, with the hosts fighting back from 4-1 down to level against opponents reduced to nine men.
Palace cannot be underestimated away from home
It has also been an impressive start to the season for Crystal Palace with Roy Hodgson's side currently sitting ninth in the standings. The Eagles are a difficult team to break down and have already secured a 2-1 win at Manchester United and a 2-2 draw at Arsenal - a continuation of their away form from the last campaign.
Palace certainly seem to find it easier being the away team and have lost their last two home matches, both 2-0, against Manchester City and Leicester City last weekend. The Eagles relied hugely on Wilfried Zaha last season but the winger has been short of his best during this campaign, failing to score so far. Instead, Ghana forward Jordan Ayew has provided the main attacking threat with four league goals.
Chelsea are well backed 1.37favourites and it is easy to see why with their current form. The Blues are going for their sixth consecutive league win and have an abundance of attacking threats in their team. Chelsea have won six of their last eight home matches against Crystal Palace and should deliver this weekend but their odds look short enough in this market.
The visitors are 10.50and this will understandably appeal to some considering their impressive away record. Crystal Palace have won 11 league away matches since the start of last season and certainly should not be discounted. The Eagles could be a sensible back to lay option, at the odds, although Chelsea are still fancied to come out on top.
The draw is trading at 5.60but this offers no appeal. Chelsea's last 16 clashes against Crystal Palace have failed to end in a draw which is a striking statistic. Chelsea have only been held twice in the league this season and this is a match which should produce a definitive outcome. The hosts look worth supporting but their defensive frailties provide a bet at a tempting price.
Goals likely at Stamford Bridge
Chelsea are backed to claim the victory but Crystal Palace can cause them problems. Lampard's side have the worst defence in the top half, conceding 17 goals in 11 matches and keeping just two clean sheets. Five of Chelsea's seven league wins have seen both teams score and Crystal Palace are a threat away from home. Chelsea can maintain their winning run in the league but their leaky defence is likely to be exposed during the match.
Chelsea's Christian Pulisic has scored in each of his last two Premier League appearances, with four goals. The American attacker is 21/10 to find the net this weekend.