The Premier League leaders thrashed Arsenal 6-0 last Saturday to spoil Arsene Wenger's 1,000th game as Gunners boss. The score was 3-0 with Arsenal down to 10 men after just 17 minutes, in what manager Jose Mourinho described as his easiest league victory this season.
''You come to kill and in 10 minutes we destroyed,'' Mourinho said. ''After that? Easy.''
The Blues didn't have a game in mid-week, but other Premier League results did not go their way as second-placed Liverpool and third-placed Manchester City both won. Chelsea lead Liverpool by one point and Man City by two, with Manuel Pellegrini's side enjoying two games in hand.
Chelsea have won seven times and drawn the other two Premier League meetings with Crystal Palace, who are one spot above the drop on 28 points. But there are signs that Pulis' men could give Mourinho's more-fancied side a battle.
Pulis' fourth league match in charge with the Eagles was a 2-1 defeat at Stamford Bridge on Dec. 14. Chelsea finished with slight edges in overall shots (16-10) and shots on target (7-5), but were harassed and harangued at times.
Mourinho tipped Pulis as the top candidate for Premier League manager of the year, although the Eagles are winless in their last five with three defeats after a last-gasp 1-0 loss at Newcastle United on Saturday. Palace were hanging onto a precious point before conceding in the fourth minute of stoppage time. They have gone 278 minutes without scoring, losing 1-0 to Southampton on March 8 along with a scoreless draw at Sunderland a week later.
"The fixtures haven't been kind to us with two long journeys in a week so I made a couple of changes to the line-up because of that," Pulis told Palace's official website. "But the players have done really well and to be beaten by the last kick of the game was disappointing. We did really well in the first hour or so but I felt we tired as the game went on."
Palace top goal-scorer Marouane Chamakh has missed three straight games with a hamstring strain while fellow striker Dwight Gayle hasn't played since Feb. 22 due to an ankle injury. Chamakh has five goals and Gayle three.
Chelsea will be without Samuel Eto'o, who is expected to miss about two weeks with a hamstring injury suffered against Arsenal.
Fernando Torres, who replaced Eto'o after 10 minutes, could be in line to be in Mourinho's line-up after earning praise from the boss.
"Yes, good movement, good understanding the way we want to play with the three players behind the striker so yes, no goal but obviously a good performance," Mourinho said.
The injured Eto'o scored the opener, Andre Schurrle had the second and Eden Hazard scored from the penalty spot before Chelsea added some gloss on the scoreline and more humiliation for Wenger as Oscar ended a 10-match goal drought with a brace and substitute Mohamed Salah scored his first goal with the club.
- Sports & Recreation
- Jose Mourinho
- Tony Pulis
- Premier League
- Arsene Wenger