Match Report

Report: Chelsea 4 Crystal Palace 0

A goal and an assist from Ben Chilwell on his Premier League debut for Chelsea helped open the floodgates in a big win over Crystal Palace at Stamford Bridge.

We had to be patient against a well-organised Palace side who kept us at arm’s length in the first half despite our dominance, but after the break we came out firing.

Just five minutes into the second half Man of the Match Chilwell smashed in Cesar Azpilicueta’s flicked-on cross at the back post and then the left-back’s cross allowed Kurt Zouma to extend the lead with a textbook header.

Two identical penalties taken by the ever-calm Jorginho, following fouls on Tammy Abraham and Kai Havertz, then put the match beyond the Eagles and secured what ended up as a comfortable victory.

The selection

Having made his first appearance for the Blues in the Carabao Cup against Tottenham, Edouard Mendy made his Premier League debut in goal, and ahead of him there was just one change to the defence that faced Spurs, with Thiago Silva replacing Fikayo Tomori alongside Kurt Zouma in the middle.

Cesar Azpilicueta captained the Blues from right-back and Chilwell made his first Premier League appearance for Chelsea, and the 100th of his career, having previously featured in both our League Cup ties.

N’Golo Kante lined-up with Jorginho in midfield, the Frenchman coming in for Mateo Kovacic as one of four changes Frank Lampard made from the midweek game with Tottenham.

Callum Hudson-Odoi and Timo Werner continued on the wings, with Tammy Abraham leading the line up front, supported by Kai Havertz behind him. Pulisic returned from injury to be named among the substitutes for the first time this season.

Crystal Palace are unchanged from the side which lost 2-1 to Everton in their previous match last weekend.

Controlling the ball

Chelsea started on the front foot, with the game settling early into a pattern of plenty of possession for the Blues, with Palace looking for opportunities to counter with pace.

Those early signs showed we might get some joy down the right side, as we forced two corners in the opening five minutes. First a good passing move between Havertz, Jorginho and Kante found Hudson-Odoi, but his low cross was blocked, and then Azpilicueta whipped in a dangerous ball that Havertz was inches away from connecting with at the front post before Cheikhou Kouyate managed to head it behind.

Abraham did get his head on a looping ball from Jorginho to the penalty spot, but he couldn’t get the contact he needed to test Vicente Guaita in the Crystal Palace goal.

The early stages of the game were played almost exclusively in our attacking third, with every player except Mendy comfortably inside Palace’s half at times and the visitors well organised with numbers defending deep. Thiago Silva still had to be alert, though, at full stretch to brilliantly intercept on the halfway line as the Eagles tried to launch Jordan Ayew on the break down the left.

However, in contrast to the flow of the game to this point, it was a counter-attack of our own after Palace’s first push forward in numbers that brought the first shot on target. Havertz strode forward through the middle of the pitch with purpose before sliding the ball left to Werner just inside the box, but his powerful effort was pushed away at the near post by Guaita.

Jorginho then fired just over the bar after picking up the loose ball from a set-piece, as we started to turn up the pressure on Palace.

Palace exerted a bit of pressure of their own as the match approached the half-hour mark, with two corners in quick succession demonstrating the threat they carry from set-pieces, but Chelsea managed to handle them without Mendy being called into action.

We were soon back in control, though, with the triangle of Jorginho, Kante and Havertz seeing plenty of the ball in the middle, but it was clear this Palace side were not going to give up chances easily.

Hudson-Odoi and Werner switched wings to keep the defenders guessing as we looked for a way to create space in the final third. It nearly paid off straight away, but Chilwell couldn’t quite reach Hudson-Odoi’s slid pass in behind. The roles were then reversed, as Hudson-Odoi raced onto Chilwell’s high ball into the channel, but it was struck just a little too hard for the young winger to beat the goalkeeper to the ball.

Attack against defence

From that point until the half-time break we completely dominated possession, with Palace barely having a sniff of the ball, but offering us very little space to carve out chances around the box.

It was clear it was going to take something special, or a slice of luck, to find the breakthrough, and the former was nearly provided when Jorginho chipped a perfectly weighted ball into the box for Abraham, who seemed to have brought the ball down excellently, but a ricochet tightened the angle and allowed Guaita to come out and make himself big to block the shot.

However, we couldn’t find a way to open up the well organised Palace ranks before the first half came to an end, meaning we went in at the break goalless despite dominating possession and territory for 45 minutes.

That same pattern of play continued immediately when play resumed, as we passed the ball around smartly in Palace’s half and the visiting players dropped deep to form a wall around their penalty area, with Werner and Abraham in particular finding space at a premium.

The breakthrough arrives

It looked like we were going to need to be patient, but in the end we didn’t have to wait much longer, as we ruthlessly punished the first mistake of the match by Palace’s defenders. Hudson-Odoi’s run unsettled their back line and when Mamadou Sakho miscued his clearance Azpilicueta clipped the ball towards the penalty spot. Abraham and Kouyate challenged in the air and when neither could make conclusive contact, Chilwell was charging in at the back post to smash a first-time shot past Guaita and get his first goal for Chelsea on the 100th Premier League game of his career.

We had the breakthrough we had waited for so patiently and Crystal Palace manager Roy Hodgson needed a new plan after being happy to try and soak up the pressure during the first 50 minutes.

With Palace forced to try and press the ball a bit higher up the pitch as we slowed the pace of our possession with our lead secured, more space began to open up, particularly for the roaming Havertz.

But our next chance came from a set-piece, after Abraham had done well to win a corner in tight space out by the flag. Chilwell whipped the ball in and Zouma met it well, but his header drifted just wide of the far post.

The visitors were starting to look forward to create chances of their own, though, with Mendy twice called into action to deal with crosses in quick succession. However, before long, we had our second goal.

Again Chilwell was at the heart of it. When his corner was headed clear, Hudson-Odoi recycled the ball and played it back out to Chilwell on the left. He looped a threatening cross into the box towards the giant leap of Zouma, who got head and shoulders above anyone else to head powerfully past Guaita from just outside the six-yard box.

Comfortable finish

The Blues players were starting to enjoy themselves now as we found increasing amounts of space in the opposition half.

Abraham went inches away from making it 3-0, but a minute later it was his clever turn in the box which resulted in a trip by Tyrick Mitchell and gave Jorginho the chance to get our third from the penalty spot. The Italian international made no mistake, calmly sending Guaita the wrong way and sliding the ball into the net to his right with his trademark skip.

He was stepping up to the spot again a few minutes later. This time Sakho was the culprit as he rushed in with a rash challenge to bring down Havertz, as the German defly lifted the ball past him. After a brief discussion with Abraham and Azpilicueta on who would take the penalty, duties remained with Jorginho and he scored with a carbon copy of his first.

The last thing Palace probably wanted to see at that point was the sight of Pulisic coming on, but that was exactly what they got as the American was introduced to make his first appearance of the season following injury. Mateo Kovacic also entered the action from the bench at the same time, Hudson-Odoi and the booked Kante the players to make way.

That fourth goal well and truly took the last of the fight out of the Palace players and allowed us to see out the remaining seven minutes with a minimum of fuss, although Werner and Havertz weren’t far away from managing to extend that lead even further.

Four goals were plenty, though, especially combined with our first clean sheet in the Premier League this season, making for a very good day's work from Lampard’s team.

What’s next?

Domestic action takes a pause for the international break, with the Blues returning to Stamford Bridge for our next match in the Premier League on Saturday 17 October, when we host Southampton.

 

Chelsea (4-2-3-1): Mendy; Azpilicueta (c), Zouma, Thiago Silva, Chilwell; Kante (Kovacic 82), Jorginho; Hudson-Odoi (Pulisic 82), Havertz, Werner; Abraham

Unused subs: Kepa, Tomori, James, Mount, Giroud

Scorers: Chilwell 50, Zouma 66, Jorginho pen 78, pen 82

Booked: Azpilicueta 64, Kante 70

 

Crystal Palace (4-4-2): Guaita; Ward, Kouyate, Sakho, Mitchell; Townsend, McArthur (Riedewald 72), McCarthy (Milivojevic 66), Eze; Zaha (c), Ayew

Unused subs: Hennessey, Dann, Kelly, Meyer, Benteke

 

Referee: Michael Oliver

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