Last season’s home match against Crystal Palace burns bright in the memory and immediately following the title-clincher back in May, Jose Mourinho highlighted the performance of Alan Pardew’s side as indicative of the Premier League.
He stated: ‘Palace played like it was a crucial game for them and that was the pure feelings of football.’
Speaking at his pre-match media conference this Friday afternoon ahead of a rematch with the Eagles at the other end of a football season, the Chelsea manager expects another tough test.
‘This is a different match but with the same need to get the three points,’ Mourinho said.
‘Last season was to win the title, this season it is to try to recover positions we lost with two bad results at the opening of the Premier League.
‘Crystal Palace are always a difficult opponent and they have even better players than last season and an even better team than last season. A London derby is always a London derby and for them Stamford Bridge is a huge motivation.
‘But I see my team coming and we had a good game and good result last weekend,’ he emphasised, adding that another good week of training has followed the one that heralded the win at West Brom.
‘That result had a bit of an influence on the happiness of the group and hopefully we can get three more points before the period of international games.
‘We have worked on a few things on defending in training, such as defending with nine men. We also worked on tactical aspects to improve the team. I didn’t just work the defenders, I worked the team because you have to defend as a team. You cannot blame defenders for goals conceded because a team is a team and good one defends as a team.’
Mourinho told reporters he is unsure whether Crystal Palace will play an open game at the Bridge on Saturday afternoon, or more defensively and without a main striker with the hope of profiting from counter-attacks, the tactic Alan Pardew deployed in his 1-0 defeat against us at the end of last season. The quality of the strikers currently at the Eagles’ disposal may influence the thinking reckons the Blues boss.
A win for Chelsea will take us back above the Selhurst Park side who are currently fifth after the three games played, and Mourinho finds it hard to understand why there have been so many stories analysing his side at such an early stage of the campaign.
‘The most important thing of this start of the season is that it is not normal in three matches to have two penalties against and you play with 10 men twice,’ he added.
‘We have played one match at home, two matches away and have four points which is not what we want but it is not a drama. We know we can improve and are going to improve. This is the Premier League and when you are five points behind the leader in another league, that can be complicated. In the Premier League it is not complicated.'