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The Far East Stand Fri 13 Oct 2017
Chelsea fans won’t need too much reminding of what happened the last time we met Crystal Palace in the Premier League.
When the Eagles visited Stamford Bridge on 1 April this year, immediately after an international break, we were on a 12-match unbeaten run and sitting pretty at the top of the Premier League table. Meanwhile, Palace were 15 spots behind us and just four points away from the relegation zone.
However, what appeared on paper to be an easy three points proved not to be the case that afternoon as Palace overcame an early deficit and a late barrage by the Blues (who enjoyed 73% of the possession) to record a surprise 2-1 win.
It remains the only game which Chelsea have lost under Antonio Conte after taking the lead but rather than having a detrimental effect, it acted as a wake-up call for us in the closing weeks of the Premier League season.
A few days later, we beat Manchester City 2-1, the first of eight wins in our last nine league games as we maintained the gap on our challengers down the stretch and brought the Premier League trophy back to the Bridge.
In the meantime, Palace went on to beat Arsenal and Liverpool and kept their place in the top flight by finishing 14th, seven points clear of relegated Hull City.
Six months on, however, the Eagles find themselves in a dire situation once again after a horror start to the season which has seen them fail to score a goal or pick up a point in their first seven league matches.
Having called time on Frank de Boer’s managerial reign after only four games, they have turned to former England coach Roy Hodgson to salvage the situation. But there has been no immediate upturn in their fortunes with heavy defeats against both Manchester clubs in their last two games dropping them further into the well.
All things considered, it should logically be the ideal time for us to be playing against them. However, logic doesn’t always pan out in football and the pessimist in me feels that we could have a tough derby match ahead of us at Selhurst Park.
Following his sudden appointment last month, Hodgson has finally had some time during the international break to work with the players he inherited from de Boer and to try to come up with a coherent plan to salvage their season.
The Eagles are already at rock bottom and have little to lose, so we can expect a spirited response from them on their weekend as they try to get a result to galvanise their raucous supporters and kickstart their campaign into life.
We may have a big Champions League game against Roma to come in midweek but our disappointing experience on April Fool’s Day should remind us that we can take absolutely nothing for granted against Palace, even if they have yet to manage a goal or a point so far.