Antonio Conte’s Chelsea have dropped just seven points since 24 September.
This is actually our last London derby of the season in the league. There is at least one more to come in the FA Cup semi-finals, and potentially a second in the final.
Premier London League
By beating the Hammers in early March, Chelsea became the capital’s leading lights of the Premier League era with 118 derby victories, one more than Arsenal.
For the Eagles, on a three-match winning run, this is the first league meeting with a top-six side since New Year's Day. They remain in 16th place, four points above the trap door, as Sam Allardyce gradually turns around their fortunes.
The Dudley-born coach engineered a remarkable victory against the Blues at the end of last season on the way to his Sunderland side dramatically escaping the clutches of relegation.
That was at the Stadium of Light, however. His success rate at Stamford Bridge is one victory in 13 visits at the helm of Bolton, Newcastle, Blackburn, West Ham and the Black Cats. This is his first commission in SW6 as a Glaziers boss, having taken the tiller in December.
The last internationals before the summer are now behind us, and clubs are assessing any injuries as their players return from the care of national associations. The boot was once on the other foot for the former head coaches of the Azzurri and the Three Lions. That is not all they have in common. Both are also rivals for the latest Barclays Manager of the Month award, having steered their clubs through March undefeated.
They have also in the past shepherded teams to promotion: Conte with Bari (2008/09) and Siena (2010/11) in Serie B, and Allardyce in 2011/12 while in charge of West Ham. Only the Italian, however, has scooped a league title.
Many have noted how the late victory over a highly physical Stoke City resonated with memories of the win against a similarly robust Blackburn in February 2005, with the same opposition manager involved: 1990s Blues legend Mark Hughes. This Saturday unites the three most-fouled players in the top flight this season: Palace’s Wilfried Zaha (78 fouls suffered),
Eden Hazard (75) and Diego Costa (68).
If Diego Costa scores his 50th league goal this weekend it will be after just 80 appearances and the fifth fastest in Premier League history: one quicker than Sergio Aguero (81 matches), 26 quicker than Didier Drobga (106).
Premier League top scorers
Romelu Lukaku (Everton) 21
Harry Kane (Tottenham) 19
Alexis Sanchez (Arsenal) 18
Diego Costa (Chelsea) 17
Zlatan Ibrahimovic (Man Utd) 15
Dele Alli (Tottenham) 14
Jermain Defoe (Sunderland) 14
Premier League most clean sheets
Thibaut Courtois (Chelsea) 13
David de Gea (Man Utd) 10
Hugo Lloris (Tottenham) 10
Fraser Forster (Southampton) 9
Lee Grant (Stoke) 9
Joel Robles (Everton) 9
In 2005, that Chelsea win at Blackburn’s Ewood Park took Jose Mourinho’s men 11 points clear. Victory at Stoke extended the Blues’ lead to 13. While that was clipped to 10 the following day, it is the biggest gap at the top of any top European league apart from Germany, where Bayern are 13 points clear of Leipzig.
Elsewhere, Roma trail Juve by eight, Monaco lead PSG by three, Barcelona are two behind Real Madrid, having played a game more, and Benfica are edging Porto by a single point.
Three of those table-toppers are in the Champions League quarter-finals, which start the week after next. Before then Premier League sides face a full programme of midweek matches, including a Chelsea-Manchester City clash of some magnitude on Wednesday, and the second successive game at the Bridge.
Our current closest rivals, Tottenham and City, both face big tests this weekend. Mauricio Pochettino’s side, without a win on the road in three matches, visit Burnley’s Turf Moor this weekend, followed by a trip to Paul Clement’s Swansea, a side scrapping for their lives. City are at Arsenal on Sunday. They won easily at West Ham, Bournemouth and Sunderland, yet stumbled on visits to Anfield and Goodison.
With any disparity in home and away results in mind, the split of remaining fixtures is interesting.
Were those trends to play out over the rest of the season, Chelsea would end up with 94 points, Spurs 78, Man City 77, Liverpool 74, Man United 73 and Arsenal 71.
Following the events last week at Westminster, the players on Saturday will wear black armbands.
THE BEST THAT CAN HAPPEN THIS WEEKEND…
Back to 13 clear at the top of the pile with an extended club-record 14th successive victory at stronghold Stamford Bridge.
Premier League fixtures
Liverpool v Everton 12.30pm - Sky Sports
Burnley v Tottenham 3pm
Chelsea v Crystal Palace 3pm
Hull v West Ham 3pm
Leicester v Stoke 3pm
Man Utd v West Brom 3pm
Watford v Sunderland 3pm
Southampton v Bournemouth 5.30pm - BT Sport
Swansea v Middlesbrough 1.30pm - Sky Sports
Arsenal v Man City 4pm - Sky Sports
Burnley v Stoke 7.45pm
Leicester v Sunderland 7.45pm
Man Utd v Everton 8pm - BT Sport
Watford v West Brom 7.45pm
Premier League table
Visit again later for more of the Briefing.
Delta Air Lines will be serving up a taste of Atlanta – the American home city of the airline - at Saturday's match.
Before kick-off at Stamford Bridge, you can sample some of Delta's free gourmet fried chicken by heading over to the West Stand by the old Shed End wall. With Delta serving 180 million people each year, equivalent to filling Stamford Bridge 4,000 times, there should be plenty to go around.
You can also see what happened when Delta joined N'Golo Kante, Kurt Zouma and Ruben Loftus-Cheek at the Bridge to help the Blues trio cook up a storm in a special video to be shown on the big screens at half-time.