Patrick Vieira has warned his Crystal Palace players to ignore Chelsea’s poor run ahead of Sunday’s Premier League contest and instead focus on their own disappointing form.
The pressure is growing on Chelsea boss Graham Potter, who only replaced Thomas Tuchel in September, following a run of six defeats in eight games in all competitions.
A 2-1 loss to west London rivals Fulham on Thursday leaves Chelsea 10th heading into the weekend’s fixtures, three points above Palace having played a game more.
Palace are themselves on a run of three defeats in four games, however, and Vieira does not want his side to be distracted by talk of a Chelsea crisis.
“We are looking at the squad that [Chelsea] have, the quality of the players that they have and the quality of the manager that they have,” the Frenchman said.
“At the moment, yes, they may be in a difficult period, because things are going against them, but that doesn’t take away the quality that they have.
“We have to perform well and not think at all about the run of games they are having at the moment. We want to focus on ourselves. We want to improve our results.”
Chelsea may have struggled in terms of results, but they have won their past 10 league meetings against Palace heading into their latest encounter at Stamford Bridge.
The Blues are without as many as 10 first-team players through injury, while Atletico Madrid loanee Joao Felix is suspended after being shown a red card on his debut in the Fulham loss.
Under-fire Potter has a number of problems to resolve, a growing injury and suspension list being one of them.
“We’re looking all the time, going over how it’s happening,” Potter said. “Sometimes when you come in through the season it’s difficult to know how it’s happened.
“It’s a bit of bad luck and also learning for us all how we can improve. It’s not like we’ve been over-training or anything like that. We certainly need to get to the bottom of it.”
PLAYERS TO WATCH
Chelsea – Hakim Ziyech
With Joao Felix joining fellow attackers Armando Broja, Raheem Sterling and Christian Pulisic on the sidelines, Potter may well recall Ziyech to the starting line-up to face Palace. The Morocco international’s Premier League career has yet to take off, but Palace fans will know what he is capable of as he scored the winning goal at Selhurst Park last year.
Crystal Palace – Wilfried Zaha
If Palace are to end their losing run in this fixture, they will need Zaha – without a goal in five matches – to be on top of his game in west London. The Ivory Coast international’s 18 shot-ended carries is behind only Liverpool’s Darwin Nunez (19) among Premier League players this term, with three of those ending in the back of the net.
KEY OPTA FACTS
– Palace have conceded at least once in each of their past 17 Premier League games against Chelsea – only against Liverpool (a current run of 19) have they gone longer without a clean sheet in the competition.
– Two of the first four Premier League games between Chelsea and Crystal Palace were draws – since then, none of the last 23 between them has finished level (19 Chelsea wins).
– Chelsea have lost three of their past six home London derbies in the Premier League, including their only one under Graham Potter so far (1-0 v Arsenal). The only Chelsea manager to lose his first two league London derby matches at Stamford Bridge was Tommy Docherty, who lost his first three in the 1961-62 campaign.
– No side has lost more games (4) or won fewer points (4) in Premier League London derby matches than Crystal Palace this season. However, they won their last such away match 2-1 against West Ham, last winning consecutive away top-flight London derbies in November 1997 (three in a row).
– Chelsea boss Potter has never won at home to Palace in all competitions in his managerial career, drawing one and losing three of four previous such games in charge of Swansea City and Brighton and Hove Albion. Indeed, Potter’s only managerial win home or away against the Eagles was this season’s reverse Premier League meeting with Chelsea at Selhurst Park, a 2-1 victory.