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by Benny

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Eaglesbeak - Post-match reaction

Ahead of the game at Chelsea this weekend we held a question and answer session with our friends at Chelsea Stats and here is what they told us.

We appreciate the time they spent answering our questions. You can check out their website here which will have plenty of information before and after the game.

TEB. How has your season gone so far in your view?

CS. Hit and miss. We had an excellent recovery against Southampton and deserved win over City, both down as positives, as well as satisfactory draws against Man Utd and Spurs away. We have already played some of our more difficult perennial away games, so in that regard we are perhaps better off than Arsenal and the league table suggests. The losses to Stoke and especially Newcastle were disappointing. We also look vulnerable defensively and ironically short of numbers at centre back, defensive and box to box midfield. We will be there or thereabouts come May though.

TEB. Are you pleased with the return of the ‘Special One’?

CS. Of course!! He is arguably the best manager around, his record at every club has been phenomenal and it’s a great to have him back, the only down side is the pressure and negativity that comes from the press.

TEB. Where do you think you will finish this season in both the league and cup competitions?

CS. I expect to reach the League Cup final after dispatching Arsenal with ease, Mourinho used the competition in his first spell as a marker and a taste of glory for some of the new players, it makes sense to do the same again and aid a strong league finish. Top three in the league seems reasonable, it’ll be hard as everyone is losing and anyone can beat anyone, the gap has closed from the old big four to a big seven, but I think we have enough to push on and give it a good go. City are the main threat and Arsenal keeps on defying the odds. We have been dominated the FA Cup over the last six years, and it’s a competition I would love to win again, the 3rd round draw has given us Derby away, who look much better under new management, if we can get to the next round it really depends on the draw, but a semi-final place should be a realistic target.

TEB. Where do you stand on the Lukaku debate?

CS. What debate? There is none in my opinion, the boy wants to play football, he is young and still raw – he had a chance to pass and win the game for Everton against Arsenal but blazed over after completing owning the Arsenal defence for strength and pace. He obviously has a lot of talent and is clearly worth the £18m we paid for him. He needs to talk less and work more on his teamwork. Chelsea were right to loan him, if he had stayed and sat on the bench or played and not scored it would have put pressure on Mourinho and the rest of the team as well as restricting his development, whilst he is at Everton he’s taken points away from Arsenal and Utd and scored away at Man City, he is helping us and growing as a player and a man and that can only help us long term.

TEB. Which Chelsea player has impressed and which has disappointed this season?

CS. Azpilicueta has been fantastic having had to wait for his opportunity, there was no bad press from home, and he has just worked hard and even though he is out of position, his work rate and desire as made up for any lack of left foot. He has rightly been keeping the best left back in country on the bench. Oscar started the season on fire and perhaps we have missed him in the last couple of games, but Hazard and Mata have started to show why they are top players. No players have disappointed, but there have been one too many individual errors that have cost us goals and then games. Torres has looked poor since his return from injury after initially looking like he had found some form at last.

TEB. Who should Palace be wary of in the game on Saturday?

CS. Hazard, he’s made 25 successful ‘take-ons’ in two games, he’s added end product with goals and assists he’s set himself a benchmark of what we should be expecting game on game now and that should terrify the entire league, three or four Sunderland players could not stop him.

TEB. Who do you think Chelsea should be concerned about from the Palace line up?

CS. Jerome has looked a different player and has led the line well and Ward is doing well defensively, but I don’t think there are any individuals to focus on, Pulis seems to have unified the team and it’s a team effort that has seen a couple of positive results. There is a massive gulf between Chelsea and Palace in terms of quality and any ardent Palace fan would have to agree. The main concern for us is our own mistakes costing us the game against a team that will work hard right to the end.

TEB. How do you think Palace have fared so far in their return to the Premier League?

CS. They struggled early on, but now look savvy in the way they play and perhaps that’s the experience of Pulis coming through.

TEB. Palace pass the ball around well, look composed in possession whilst not showing anything spectacular. Which is a hidden compliment really, they look just like an ordinary premier league team.

CS. They are in the mix and are no worse than Fulham, Sunderland, Norwich, Cardiff, West Ham et al, but it’s the points on the board that really matter and the Eagles will need to beat those around them especially at home. I mentioned a big seven at the top end of the table and balance means there are around seven teams at the bottom end without any team really being cut adrift. Palace has a chance, perhaps a couple of signings in January to add depth might be the key. I expect Palace will get a ‘shock’ result against one of the big boys this season. Just hopefully not this weekend.

TEB. And finally, your prediction for this one?

CS. We’ll concede, that seems inevitable at the moment, but I think some players will have a point to prove and if our striker on the day fancies it, we could roll out five or six , but I think it will be 2-1 until twenty to go and we’ll kill the game late on 4-1.

Article by Jay Crame