With all the talk that this is a good time to play Chelsea, Joel Ward is wary of a wounded animal when he and his Palace side travel to Stamford Bridge tomorrow.
The champions finally won their first game of the season last week against West Bromwich Albion in laboured fashion to pick up their first win in four competitive outings, and will be without captain John Terry who was red-carded in that match.
However the Eagles right-back has stated that his side are just focussed on the 11 men who will line-up for the Blues and the following 90 minutes, rather than the extra hype around the contest as they aim to continue their fine start.
He said: “When you look at the top clubs, if they have a bad result or something doesn’t quite go their way they’re always looking for a response so you can never underestimate teams like Chelsea. People say that it’s a good time to play them but they’ve got world class players that can win games on their own. Their quality does shine through at times.
“Everyone knows the qualities of John Terry, he’s the leader of that team and everything starts from him but he’s not in their side at the moment. Whoever is in the starting line-up against us, we’ve just got to go about our jobs and give ourselves the best chance of coming away with some nice points.”
Palace haven’t won at Stamford Bridge since 1982 but go there tomorrow buoyed by three victories in their opening four games this campaign. That may help them as they head into a tough run of games that sees Chelsea followed by Manchester City and Tottenham Hotspur, but Ward is relishing the challenges.
“I think any team looks forward to playing against the big teams as you get the chance to test yourself against the best,” he continued. “I think every game in the Premier League is tough so I don’t think it matters who you have at the start or in the middle of the season because you’re going to come across the top teams at some point.
“The competition is endless so we’ll just take one game at a time and prepare properly which will give us the best chance whoever we come up against. We always work on different things to try and stop them from playing or help us to have more of a standpoint in the game.
“There’s so many different things you can work on but we’ll pick up on a few and the gaffer will relay the message onto us in terms of what he wants us to do, and we’ll go out there and do the best we can.”
This is the final game before the Premier League takes a short hiatus for the international break and will give the Eagles a chance to reflect on their start, which Ward has done in terms of the team as a whole and his own personal performances.
The 25-year-old mused: “I think it’s been a great start for us, we were relieved we got off to a flyer against Norwich and picked up points on the weekend again, and the only game we haven’t is against Arsenal which was disappointing because I felt we deserved to get something out of the game.
“As for myself I’m the type of player who always strives for more and I always want to do better and I think that’s the same for every player at the club. We’re all driving each other on, trying to bring the best out of each other which is vital in the Premier League – especially this early on in the season.”