Crystal Palace v Chelsea: Can Mount bypass Palace bus?

Date published: Saturday 10th April 2021 4:45 - Alex Keble

mason mount chelsea

Crystal Palace v Chelsea is the kind of game that could see the worst traits of Thomas Tuchel’s team exposed.


Tactical pattern
Chelsea have now failed to win either of their last two Premier League games, which gives Liverpool, Tottenham and Everton a good chance of usurping them in the top four. That makes this a very big game at Selhurst Park – and it means we could see more of the nervous, stilted and uncreative Chelsea that has emerged out of Thomas Tuchel’s highly-structured tactical patterns.

Crystal Palace, like West Brom, are just the team to bring out Chelsea’s worst traits under Tuchel. Roy Hodgson will sit his team back in banks of four, allowing the visitors to hog possession somewhat aimlessly while Palace compress the space, jam the middle of the pitch with bodies and see if they can set Wilfried Zaha away on the counter-attack.

Back the draw at 14/5 (PaddyPower)

Key battle zone
Everything happens down Palace’s left. In attack, the obvious source of goals on the counter is through left-winger Eberechi Eze and Wilfried Zaha, who will combine to burst beyond Reece James. No team in the Premier League attacks down the left as much as Palace (44%), such is their reliance on Zaha as the out-ball. Tuchel may feel confident his back three, with Cesar Azpilicueta drifting out to right-back, can keep a lid on Eze and Zaha.

In defence, Zaha and Eze are Crystal Palace’s weak links, and Chelsea can anticipate getting space if they focus their play down this side of the pitch – just as Tottenham did in their recent 4-1 win. Gareth Bale ran the show as first Eze, then substitute Jordan Ayew, failed to track his movement properly on that side.

Keep an eye on… Tuchel’s substitutions
Tuchel was overly conservative in the 5-2 defeat to West Brom. Sam Allardyce’s side were already out-battling Chelsea in midfield when Thiago Silva was sent off, which is why it was a mistake for the Chelsea manager to bring on Andreas Christensen for Hakim Ziyech, sacrificing a forward to retain the back three. Now the hosts had seven defenders and two attackers on the pitch, inviting pressure and sending a nervous message out from the dugout.

The game-defining substitution was in keeping with Tuchel’s management so far, because for all his excellent organisational work these last few months, Chelsea continue to play within themselves in possession. Tuchel needs to be more expansive – and more trusting in his attacking players. If Palace keep the score at 0-0 for an extended period of time then a lot will rest on Tuchel’s substitutions.

Back under 2.5 goals at 3/4 (Betfair)

One to watch… Mason Mount
When Chelsea do manage to open up, letting go of some of the ruthless structure for a more vertical approach, it is invariably the work of Mason Mount that does it. He intelligently drops into spaces on the outside of the opposition midfield, adding width to a formation that can look a little narrow with that 3-4-2-1 midfield square. Whether starting the game as a central midfielder or inside forward, Mount can make the difference.

His importance is heightened by Palace’s recent problems in the middle. Jairo Riedewald has not looked good enough in recent games alongside Luka Milivojevic, and with James McCarthy out injured that only really leaves Jeffrey Schlupp to play there. Mount can pounce on any problems in Hodgson’s midfield. 


Odds correct at the time of publication. 18+ Please Gamble Responsibly. Visit

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