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Chelsea-Crystal Palace Preview
It's been a historically bad start to the 2017-18 season for Crystal Palace, who have yet to win or even score a goal over the first seven weeks of the season.
The Eagles (0-0-7) have already dismissed former manager Frank de Boer in favor of Roy Hodgson, and obviously must start collecting points if they have any hope of avoiding relegation.
Unfortunately, the fixture list hasn't been kind to Palace and won't get any easier against defending champions Chelsea on Saturday at Selhurst Park.
The international break perhaps came at a good time for Palace, who likely used the time off from domestic play to straighten things out on the training pitch ahead of this contest. The Eagles were blasted 4-0 by Manchester United prior to the break.
Despite the horrendous start, defender Damien Delaney tried some positivity following the loss to United.
"Nine goals conceded in two weeks is not good enough but we need to be conscious that we still have 30 games left and it will hopefully not be too long before we have players returning from injury," he said. "Once we get some of the lads back we can start doing what we know we are capable of because our first seven games have just not been good enough."
The Eagles will have some reinforcements coming as Wilfried Zaha returned to training after an opening-weekend injury, but striker Christian Benteke is injured and on-loan youngster Ruben Loftus-Cheek will not play against his parent club.
"It is good to be back from a personal point of view but results wise it's about sticking together, rolling our sleeves up and realising the size of the task we have ahead of us," Delaney added.
"The run of games we have had is not ideal but we have had tougher mountains to climb at this football club in the past. First and foremost we must get back on the training ground and get ourselves prepared for the challenge ahead."
For Chelsea (4-1-2), this match is a chance to get back on the winning track after a hard-fought 1-0 defeat to Manchester City prior to the international break. Kevin De Bruyne's 67th-minute goal was enough to give the Citizens all three points, and Chelsea midfielder Cesc Fabregas was slow to draw any significant conclusions from the defeat.
"We faced a City team who came well prepared," he said. "They had home games and one extra day of rest. ... We gave it everything and could not have done anything more.
"This was without a doubt the same Chelsea of last season, but what happened was that we came up against a City side who went into the game much better rested than we did. Nothing more. This time last year we were eight points behind, but it doesn't mean anything. There is still a long way to go in all competitions."
Crystal Palace have won only one of their previous eight Premier League matches against Chelsea at Selhurst Park. Chelsea have won more points (421) in London derbies than any other side in Premier League history.
Antonio Conte could become the first Chelsea manager to record two separate winning runs of 6+ Premier League away matches (also December 2016). Fabregas is one away from becoming only the third Spanish player to score 50 Premier League goals, after Diego Costa (52) and Fernando Torres (85).
Updated October 12, 2017