Chelsea will be looking to plug their leaky defence as they welcome Crystal Palace to Stamford Bridge on Saturday.
Jose Mourinho's side (9-3-3) have conceded three goals against both Stoke and Sunderland in their last two league games, leaving them with the worst defensive record in the top six. However, despite the Blues' perceived inconsistency under Mourinho, they are level on points with second-place Liverpool and just five points behind front-running Arsenal heading into the festive fixture pile-up.
Chelsea also had some positive news this week as they topped their Champions League group thanks to a 1-0 win over Schalke, leaving them a likely favourable draw in the last 16.
"There are the champions of Russia, a German side in Bayer Leverkusen and the Turkish champions with King Didier," said the Chelsea manager when discussing his team's possible opponents in the knockout stages. "But we have to forget the Champions League now.
"Until it starts again in February, March, we have to work to improve the team and get results in the English competitions."
Crystal Palace (4-1-10) picked up just three points from their opening 10 games, but have responded brilliantly to new manager Tony Pulis, and three wins in their last four have lifted the club back into the pack in the bottom half of the Premier League.
Despite the revival, Pulis is under no illusions as to how tough Saturday's game could be for his side.
"On any given day if Chelsea play to their maximum they're just, without being disrespectful, a little bit ahead of us," said Pulis. "It is always difficult going away and playing against the top sides in this league and you need everything to go in your favour to get a result, and that's no criticism of the group of clubs who are below that. But that's what you need - you need them to be off form, you need to be right on top of it and you need some breaks as well.
"It's about going there and enjoying it more than anything without trepidation, just get out there and do your best. We know there is a massive gulf between what Chelsea have got to what this club has got."
Chelsea's only confirmed injury absentee is youngster Marco van Ginkel (knee), but Palace have doubts over Dean Moxey (hamstring), Jerome Thomas (ankle) and Jack Hunt (ankle), and are without Adlene Guedioura (rib), Paddy McCarthy (groin) and Glenn Murray (knee).
The 17 goals conceded by Chelsea are already more than they conceded in all of Mourinho's first season at the club, when they allowed just 15 goals in winning the Premier League at a canter. Mourinho is still undefeated in league play at Stamford Bridge - a run that now stands at 67 matches with 52 wins and 15 draws.
Palace have conceded just one goal in their last five matches after failing to keep a clean sheet in any of their opening 10.
The last times these teams met were back in the 2004-05 season, when Chelsea won both meetings and Palace were relegated.
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