Former Gunner explains why Chelsea have it tough at Palace

Selhurst Park is a deceptively tough place to go as former Arsenal star Paul Merson warns Chelsea ahead of their Crystal Palace trip.

Chelsea may be flying high in the Premier League, with 19 points already returned from a possible 21 and a five point lead over Manchester City, but a victory over 15th placed Crystal Palace is not a foregone conclusion, asserts ex Arsenal star and current Sky Sports analyst Paul Merson.

Chelsea have many difference-makers all over the pitch, from Eden Hazard to new recruits Cesc Fabregas and Diego Costa. Even at the back the Blues are remarkably stringent due to the protecting nature of Nemanja Matic and the stereotypical defensively-solid back four that Jose Mourinho insists upon.

Their Saturday afternoon match-up against Crystal Palace, though, is "a real test".

Explaining more, Merson said: "Especially when you consider what happened last year when John Terry scored an own goal and they lost 1-0 - that was probably where they lost the title last year.

"People think Chelsea should beat Crystal Palace – and they should – but it is a hard place to go."

Revealing what makes it so difficult, Merson said: "Palace have pace on the flanks and the Chelsea full-backs like to bomb forward, so a lot depends on who has the most bottle.

"Will Branislav Ivanovic and César Azpilicueta be forced to track back all day long? I expect Chelsea to narrowly win it – but the atmosphere will be absolutely rocking there!"

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