Football: Crystal Palace boss Vieira issues Chelsea warning

LONDON – Crystal Palace manager Patrick Vieira has urged his side to focus on their own game rather than read too much into Chelsea’s problems ahead of Sunday’s clash at Stamford Bridge.

The Blues were beaten 2-1 by Fulham on Thursday in another all-London clash and now lead Palace by just three points in the Premier League table, having played one game more than the Eagles.

Chelsea are 10th, an unusually low position in recent seasons, with a dismal run of just one win from their past eight games in all competitions piling the pressure on manager Graham Potter.

Palace have problems of their own following successive defeats. They were knocked out of the FA Cup after a 2-1 defeat by top-flight rivals Southampton last week, which came three days after a 4-0 thrashing by Tottenham in a home league match.

“The mood has been challenging, of course, because of the results that we have had, but I have seen a group who have been working well this week and waiting for the game to perform the best that we can,” Vieira said on Friday.

“We are looking at the squad that they (Chelsea) have and we are looking at the quality of the players that they have, we are looking at the quality of the manager that they have.”

Graham Potter’s men, who were hit by a spate of injuries, will be eager to stop the slide. Vieira expects them to start the game with a lot of pressure, adding: “We will have to be ready from the first minute to answer.”

The former Arsenal captain added: ”At the moment, yes, they (Chelsea) may be in a difficult period, because things are going against them, but that doesn’t take away the quality that they have.

“We, again, have to perform well, and not think at all about the run of games they are having at the moment.

“We want to focus on ourselves. We want to improve regarding the last games that we played. We want to be more competitive, and more consistent in our performances, to allow ourselves to win games.”

Left-back Tyrick Mitchell is back after a three-match suspension, with no other fresh selection issues for Palace.

The same could not be said of Chelsea, with Denis Zakaria added to a growing list of absentees. The Swiss midfielder was forced to come off early in the second half at Craven Cottage, joining the nine players who had been sidelined.

Potter, who will also be without new signing Joao Felix who was sent off on his debut against Fulham, said they are doing everything to prevent more players from getting injured. He added: “It’s not like we’ve been over-training or anything like that, we certainly need to get to the bottom of it though.”

The Englishman also urged his side to bounce back from the disappointment of the Fulham defeat. He said: “We have to try to be positive and move forward and take a home game on. It’s another London derby against a team with dangerous players so we have to be good ourselves and prepare the team.” AFP, REUTERS

Chelsea v Palace

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