Crystal Palace vs Chelsea Pick, Predictions | Premier League Match Preview
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Crystal Palace vs Chelsea Pick, Prediction
|Crystal Palace Odds
|Over / Under
-125 / +100
Another week and two more puzzling performances for Chelsea under Mauricio Pochettino. The Blues lost 4-1 at home to Wolves on Sunday in the league and then followed it up with a road win the FA Cup replay at Aston Villa on Wednesday, 3-1. Chelsea continue to be quite inconsistent overall and now they catch London rival Crystal Palace in an ideal spot on Monday Night Football. Palace enter this match in a bit of a mess following a 4-1 beatdown at Brighton last week in the league.
Not only did the Eagles lose that match, but they're now without key attackers Eberechi Eze and Michael Olise due to injury. Given that key center back Marc Guehi is also out for Palace, Roy Hodgson is without three of his most vital players.
With Chelsea getting healthy and players back in their attack, the market has taken a lot of Chelsea money in the last week. The key returnees for the Blues bolster the attack in a big way and the total sits a bit low for this fixture despite the Palace absences.
Read on for my Crystal Palace vs Chelsea pick and prediction.
The absence of Guehi is a huge one for the Palace defense and being underrated by the market. Palace are sure to face a lot of pressing and ball pressure in this match against Chelsea. The Blues rank third-best at disrupting opponents build-up in the entire Premier League and Guehi is a key ball progressor for the attack. He has the second most passes into the final third for the Eagles this season and the passing range of he and Joachim Anderson is their primary skill trait.
Then there's the loss of Eze and Olise. The two only played 21 combined 90s for Palace this year and added 11 goals and four assists combined. The drop off from these two to Jordan Ayew and Jeffrey Schlupp is quite massive for the Palace attacking outlook. The Eagles are expecting to start Jean-Phillipe Mateta up top. He is averaging just 0.16 xG per 90 without penalties this season.
Ayew and Schlupp have each added 0.32 xG + xA and 0.25 xG + xA per 90 in their respective minutes this year. The drop off in quality from the fully fit front 3 of Eze/Olise/Odsonne Edouard to the likely lineup is worth almost a half goal in attacking production.
Palace were totally unable to overcome the Brighton press in the match last Saturday once Guehi went off. The Eagles totaled six penalty area touches, seven shots and 0.3 xG in the loss. Defensively, they were unfortunate to concede four goals but also lacked an outlet to move the ball up the pitch most of the match.
Chelsea were finally able to play its best attackers at the same time in the midweek victory against Aston Villa. When Nicolas Jackson is on the pitch, the Blues are producing 2.1 xG per match this year in the EPL. When he's off the pitch, the Blues' attack has produced just 1.4 xG per game.
There's a weird shape to the Blues underlying statistics this season too. It's true that if you just look at the underlying stats for the whole year, you'd see a +0.4 xG difference per 90 minutes and view the Blues as a top five or six team. But Chelsea had a big time stat padding performance against nine man Tottenham and amassed most of their elite quality data in the first half of the year. If you strip out the noise of outlier events, the Blues appear a lot more average.
If you remove penalties and red cards from the sample, Chelsea have an even expected goal differential in the last three months. Chelsea are producing 1.65 xG per 90 in that sample — and there's room for optimism now that Jackson, Cole Palmer and Christopher Nkunku can all start — but the defense has fallen off considerably.
Chelsea are conceding 1.6 xGA per match in that time frame. The defense looked considerably better when Thiago Silva wasn't in the side in the FA Cup, but that also felt like more of a matter of Villa not taking advantage of opportunities to exploit them in space.
Given their reliance on young talent, it's unsurprising to see Chelsea be quite inconsistent match to match. The defense remains flawed, but Chelsea's attack looks good on paper to plenty of chances on Monday.
Instead of backing the Blues on the inflated moneyline price and trusting their inconsistent defense, I'm backing Chelsea to score multiple times against a vulnerable Palace defense. The Eagles have always been a bend but don't break defense — they rank 17th in crosses and 15th in box entries allowed but rank in the top half in xGA conceded.
They've pulled that off in part because the Eagles had elite center back health and chemistry. Now that Guehi is out and the Eagles lack an outlet with Eze or Olise to break the pressure, Chelsea will exploit the holes in the defense and score multiple times with their best attacking lineup available.
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Pick: Chelsea Over 1.5 (-130)