Crystal Palace manager Alan Pardew believes his team can bounce back from the “worst performance” of his reign against Chelsea.
Pardew’s side had been on a four-match winning run, which included a victory over Manchester City, before being jolted by 2-0 defeats at home to West Brom and then Hull.
With Palace having secured their Barclays Premier League status, though, Pardew, by his own admission, is finding it difficult to maintain motivation levels similar to those being employed by the likes of Hull, and Sunday’s opponents Chelsea.
Jose Mourinho’s Blues need just the one win to clinch their first title in five years, so a coronation atmosphere at Stamford Bridge is perhaps the last thing Pardew needs.
But the former Newcastle boss struck a relatively defiant note on Friday, having already seen his players respond to the Hull loss by putting in the extra yards in training.
“I think we probably shot ourselves in the foot in those last two home games,” Pardew said.
“Saturday was, by far, the worst performance under me at this football club. “We need to respond for ourselves and for the Premier League because we need to keep the title race open if we can.
“We don’t want them to win it on Sunday, of course.
For us, it’s an important game. We’ve played very well against the top sides since I’ve been here. We want to continue that. “It’s a great day for us to be involved in, in a way.
It’s going to be a great atmosphere. If they beat us, we’ll accept it.”
On a personal level, Pardew will be hoping to secure his second win of the season against Chelsea, having masterminded a first defeat of the campaign for Mourinho’s men when his Magpies ran out 2-1 winners at St James’ Park on December 6.
Less than a month later, Tottenham beat Chelsea 5-3 to make it a less than happy New Year’s Day for Chelsea. Those may have been the only blips in the Blues’ season, but Pardew is relishing the task of trying to inflict a third league loss on the champions-elect.
“We had a good game-plan and deserved to win on that day (in December),” Pardew said.