Match Report

Match Report: Crystal Palace 1 Chelsea 4

Chelsea moved back up to fourth in the Premier League table with our best attacking display under Thomas Tuchel.

In a blistering start to this London derby, the Blues were 2-0 up inside 10 minutes and 3-0 ahead on 30.

Kai Havertz was the first name on the scoresheet, with his first Premier League goal since October, and he ended the wait with a finish of sheer quality, guiding the ball into the net from an angle.

Christian Pulisic had netted last weekend against West Brom and he rifled in another goal soon after Havertz’s opener, with what was close to an identical strike to the American’s in our last visit to Selhurst Park back in July.

Beating former Chelsea captain Gary Cahill in the air is no mean feet but Kurt Zouma did that comprehensively to add his side’s third from a Mason Mount free-kick.

Christian Benteke cut the Palace deficit just past the hour mark when he headed in from open play but Pulisic added his second of the game and fifth of the season from close range, ensuring any hopes the home side had of putting pressure on their local rivals in the closing minutes evaporated.
 

The selection

There were three changes from the Porto win, spread across the team. One was enforced as Tuchel was without the two players he has played most regularly in the middle of his back-three – Thiago Silva due to suspension and Andreas Christensen due to injury. Kurt Zouma came in, adding his aerial power to our threat.

Callum Hudson-Odoi was preferred to Reece James at right wing-back and in the front line, there was a place for Christian Pulisic with Timo Werner moving to the bench.

Before kick-off, the teams observed a two-minute silence for His Royal Highness The Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, who passed away yesterday.


Fast-starting Blues

Chelsea headed into this match having slipped up badly in our last Premier League match, at home to West Brom, but buoyed in confidence by the excellent Champions League result against Porto midweek. We started the game in sixth in the table, Liverpool moving a point ahead with their win over Villa in the 3pm kick-off. The Reds had played an extra game but West Ham also had a point more than the Blues with the same number of games, eight, to go.

If confidence was already at a good level after the win in Seville, it must have been sky high after the way we started this match. There was no shortage of Chelsea ball deep in the Palace half right from the beginning and it paid off with two goals with only nine minutes on the clock.

Initially, Vicente Guaita in the Palace goal made a good save to keep out a Pulisic shot at his near post but it was a moment’s stay of execution as Mount foraged possession back in trademark style. Hudson-Odoi played a simple pass forward to Havertz whose finish was exquisite – all about placement rather than power as he put a subtle bend on the ball to guide it low and out of reach of the goalie, into the far side of the net.

It took less than two minutes more for the Blues to make it 2-0, and Havertz was involved again, laying off a Chilwell pass for Pulisic to advance and slam the ball high into the home side’s net with the power to give Guaita no chance this time.

Midway through the first half, the keeper did keep out another Havertz shot after the German had lifted the ball over the Palace defence and shot, in action reminiscent of Gazza in ’96.

Half an hour into the game, it was 3-0 to Chelsea. Cheikhou Kouyate earned a booking when conceding a free-kick on the left and there was more punishment loaded on by Mount’s excellent delivery, followed by Zouma’s towering header for the Frenchman’s fifth goal of the season.

The rampant Blues came close to even more goals before the interval, with a Mount shot saved and Patrick van Aanholt on the line keeping out another Zouma header. The Eagles only really threatened on one occasion in the first half and then Toni Rudiger was in the right place to sweep up.

Palace break through but Pulisic pounces

Ben Chilwell tried his luck unsuccessfully within seconds of the restart with Tuchel’s men determined not to take their foot off the throttle, although our most scrappy minutes of the match followed.

Hudson-Odoi restored the attacking intent with two crosses, the first onto the head of Havertz and the second finding the boot of Chilwell, although the target was missed by both.

Benteke was more accurate when he pulled a goal back for Palace with 63 minutes played, meeting a cross from substitute Jeffery Schlupp at the far post with Chilwell unable to prevent the header. There will be regrets about the space afforded the Eagles during the move.

Five minutes later, there was a chance for Havertz to restore the three-goal cushion but he shot too close to Guaita from the edge of the area.

A Mount shot was stopped by the sort of block from Cahill that Chelsea fans know so well but when the 35-year-old attempted to do similar when Reece James, who had only just come on, crossed low, his stretching leg could only divert the ball to where Pulisic made it 4-1 from a couple of yards out.


Sixes and Sevens

With this victory, Chelsea have won seven league games in row against Crystal Palace for the first time ever. This was the 48th league meeting.

It also means we are undefeated in our last six Premier League away games, which are all the ones played under Thomas Tuchel. It is the first time we have had such a run on the road since April 2017, when we were closing in on the title with Antonio Conte at the helm.

What's next?

It is back to Seville and the second-leg conclusion of our Champions League quarter-final tie against Porto. Although the game is in Spain, it counts as our home leg. We are 2-0 up from the 'away' leg. Kick-off is 8pm on Tuesday. 


Chelsea (3-4-3): Mendy; Azpilicueta (c), Zouma, Rudiger; Hudson-Odoi (James 76), Jorginho, Kovacic (Ziyech 83), Chilwell; Mount, Havertz, Pulisic.
Unused subs Kepa, Alonso, Emerson, Kante, Abraham, Giroud, Werner.
Scorers Havertz 8, Pulisic 10, 78, Zouma 30

Palace (4-4-2): Guaita; Ward, Kouyate, Cahill, Van Aanholt; Ayew (Townsend 76), Milivojevic (c), Riedewald, Eze; Benteke, Zaha.
Unused subs Butland, Dann, Kelly, Mitchell, McCarthy, Schlupp, Rak-Sakyi, Mateta.
Scorer Benteke 63
Booked
Kouyate 29

Referee Michael Oliver

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