Chelsea are guaranteed to be top at Christmas regardless of what happens in this game, but another win would set a new club record for most consecutive wins in a single season.
It would also match the current record for most consecutive wins spanning two seasons, which was set in 2009 — Five wins to end 2008-09 under interim manager Guus Hiddink then six to open the title-winning season of 2009-10 under Carlo Ancelotti. Chelsea were top at Christmas during that season, just as we were in 2004-05, 2005-06, and 2014-15, and just as six of the previous seven winners of the Premier League have. Barring a Steven Gerrard slip, the Christmas number one has proven to last a hit well into the late spring in the Premiership.
All those good omens won't mean much if Chelsea were to suddenly falter. No one really expects that, though no one really expected this winning streak either, certainly not after back-to-back defeats to Liverpool and Arsenal. Fortunes can change very, very quickly in football — after all, exactly twelve months ago, we were a point above the relegation zone and had just sacked Jose Mourinho, again.
So we must work and fight and continue to improve. Always.
Date / Time: Saturday, December 17, 2016, 12:30 GMT; 7:30am EST; 6pm IST
Venue: Selhurst Park, London, England
Referee: Jonathan Moss — back for the third time already this season; he was also in charge for our 1-0 win at Middlesbrough a few weeks ago and our 2-1 win at Watford in August.
Forecast: Overcast, cool, dry.
On TV: Sky Sports 1 (UK); NBCSN, NBC Universo (USA); Star Sports HD1 (India); elsewhere
Online: Sky Go (UK); NBC Sports Live Extra, Telemundo Deportes En Vivo (USA); Star Sports (India)
Crystal Palace team news: Palace's injury list is almost as long as their winless habit — Pardew's men have lost seven of their last ten, and while they've been scoring goals aplenty (on the top four have more), they've been conceding at even greater rates (only two teams, Swansea and Hull have conceded more). Christian Benteke is on pace for his best season since his debut with Aston Villa in 2012-13.
Benteke's younger brother, Jonathan, is just one of eight players on the injury list, many of whom are dealing with massive issues like Pape Souare's broken leg or Connor Wickham's blown ACL. The younger Benteke and Chelsea summer backup goalkeeper target Steve Mandanda are also dealing with knee problems, while Mathieu Flamini and James Tomkins and Bakary Sako are out with groin strains. And there's Loïc Rémy, who's constantly injured though wouldn't be able to play anyway due to the terms of his loan from Chelsea.
Palace almost eked out a point against Manchester United on Wednesday, so despite their poor form, they're unlikely to be pushovers. That said, Chelsea have only lost once away to Palace in the Premier League era (the 1-0 at the end of 2013-14).
Chelsea team news: Eden Hazard is back; the rest of the squad remains healthy and probably still quite fit despite the exertions earlier in the week. We might see a bit of rotation in a couple positions (Matić back in?), but otherwise expect the usual 3-4-3. Conte has warned that teams are starting to figure us out, so we'll just have to work harder, better, stronger, smarter.
Previously: One of the nicer things from last season was Chelsea's 3-0 win at Selhurst Park, Hiddink's first win in his second spell, with goals from Oscar, Willian, and Diego Costa, who hasn't stopped scoring since.