We got there in the end!
Chelsea took on Crystal Palace at Selhurst Park in a London Derby as Lampard and team aimed to go 3rd in the table. Lampard selected a strong team to field with Kepa in goal while the defence remained unchanged from the Watford game with Reece, and Azpilicueta as the full backs and Christensen and Zouma in the middle. Gilmour got the call up to replace the injured Kante while Mount and Barkley continued as the two eights. Pulisic and Willian kept their place in the team while Giroud started up front once again.
Chelsea started brilliantly with Giroud grabbing the lead in the 6th minute in slightly lucky circumstances. Reece James played a brilliant ball into Willian’s path who went past Cahill although the Palace defender pulled a hamstring and fell down as he could not attempt a challenge. Willian played on and cut back the ball for Giroud who tapped in for the lead. Teams need to take the lead how and when they come and Willian was professional in doing so. Chelsea continued to dominate the ball as Palace stayed deep in their half. Pulisic had been quiet for the game as teams begin to mark him religiously but a switch with Willian helped him score the 2nd. Christensen blocked off a Palace attack to play the ball to Mount who passed it to Willian who give and goed with Giroud to then pass it to Pulisic who rifled in a shot on the left hand side. That makes it 4 goals and 2 assists since the return of football for Willian while Pulisic also gets another goal and continues his fine form. Palace had the last say of the half though as Zaha scored a screamer to give the Eagles hope in the 34th minute. Kepa might have been able to get a hand to it but it was a good shot none the less. Palace ended the 1st half as the better side as Chelsea lost momentum.
The 2nd half started more openly than the 1st with Palace bringing the game to Chelsea. Chelsea just could not get the tempo right as the likes of Zaha caused havoc with their pace. Subs were made in the 65th minute as Tammy and Loftus-Cheek came on for Giroud and Barkley. Loftus-Cheek again made a positive impact to the game and it was his cheeky assist that Tammy finished expertly to give Chelsea a 1-3 lead in the 71st minute. Palace though went right down the other end and got one back via Benteke after Christensen was caught with his feet stuck in. With Palace beginning to put pressure on Chelsea Jorginho came on for his first appearance of the season in place of Billy Gilmour in the 80th minute. The change was instant as he seemed to bring an aura of composure to the team. Jorginho elegantly distributed the ball around the pitch and controlled the game up till extra time. The final few moments though were all Palace as Zaha put in a brilliant cross after Tammy lost the ball and the header was saved by Kepa and hit the post. The final chance came in the final minute as Zaha found Benteke who was through on goal but a last ditch slide tackle by Zouma meant that Chelsea escaped with 3 points.
Player Review –
Kepa – Kepa did well he could have done better for the first goal but his last ditch save in the end redeemed him for the game.
Reece James – Reece is improving game by game and offensively he is doing better as he delivered some brilliant crosses which were not finished. Defensively there is still catching up to do but the signs are there.
Christensen – Christensen did well as well although the 2nd goal was mostly his fault. The Dane is still one of our better centre backs.
Zouma – Zouma followed up his impressive performance against Watford with another dominant display against Palace. The Frenchman was commanding at the back and his tackle at the end was a match winner. One that needs to stay.
Azpilicueta – Another good performance by the captain as his composure defensively led the team on. Going forward though crossing from the left was always going to be an issue.
Gilmour – A good outing from Gilmour not at the same level as pre lockdown but improved for sure. Started the game in a nervy way but grew into it.
Barkley – A quiet game from Barkley as he made some good tackles but offered little going forward.
Mount – Mount was again ever present in the midfield as he made tackles, distributed the ball well and set up a few attacks as well. Improving game by game.
Willian – Willian continues to be performing well in his Last Dance as he gets another two assists to his name and was overall brilliant. Defended well, attacked well in a mature performance.
Pulisic – Pulisic is making a name for himself post lockdown and that will obviously bring added attention from opposition defenders. The American still grew into the game made some surging runs, created chances, and got a brilliant goal. On the up.
Giroud – Giroud continues his goal scoring run with a simple finish in this game. The Frenchman is as professional as ever and is someone the team can trust upon.
Loftus-Cheek – Ruben again had a better game than the last as he continues to get the feels of football again. Brilliant midfield runs once again and got a brilliant assist for Tammy’s goal.
Tammy – Tammy did well for his goal as he ended a 10 game drought without scoring. Tammy could have easily had another but lacked the composure in the finish. Defensively though he made a couple of errors in the end which could have led to us dropping points.
Jorginho – A memorable cameo by our vice captain as his introduction calmed everyone down. Jorginho made several passes distributed the ball brilliantly and reminded everyone about what he does best. Not the most mobile but impactful non the less. Could have a shout to start on Saturday.
Lampard’s subs make a difference again as we move into 3rd in the table, a point above Leicester and 5 clear of United in 5th. Time for small break and then Sheffield United on Saturday. COME ON YOU BLUES!!! Also the new away kit is NICE!!