Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang has his first goal for his new club but it will be Conor Gallagher making the headlines after his, a dramatic and brilliant late winner on his return to Selhurst Park. The result moves the Blues up to fifth in the Premier League table.
Crystal Palace vs Chelsea result
It ended Crystal Palace 1 Chelsea 2. Having recovered from going behind early on with Aubameyang’s fine leveller, it looked like we were ultimately going to be frustrated at Selhurst Park, but substitute Gallagher curled a shot into the top corner in the 90th minute to give Graham Potter his first win as Chelsea head coach in his first Premier League game in charge.
This visit to south London started poorly. Palace took an early lead following some sloppy Chelsea play and then looked good value for that advantage. Steadily though, the Blues chances began to come with Mason Mount heading wide and Raheem Sterling going close.
It was Aubameyang, without a mask but with a sharp finish on the spin, who did pull his side level before half-time.
A first-half talking point was a VAR review for a possible red card for Thiago Silva which went Chelsea’s way.
A home crowd angered by that urged their side on in the second half and Kepa made a good save but with time running out, another substitute, Christian Pulisic, teed up Gallagher to decide this derby contest.
There were two changes from Graham Potter’s first game in charge, way back in the middle of September. Both were in defence, one enforced with Marc Cucurella ill and one a selection decision with Cesar Azpilicueta moved to the bench. Ben Chilwell and Wesley Fofana were handed starts in their place.
There was plenty to ponder ahead of this game. How would such a long gap between Chelsea matches have affected the players? Would there be a hangover from the international outings for many of them? How would Potter approach his first Premier League match as Blues head coach, an occasion he had no shortage of time to think about?
This was, afterall, the joint-second-longest gap between league games in Chelsea history.
In the end, Potter changed shape from the RB Salzburg game, with a back-four defence and Raheem Sterling playing on the right of the attack rather than an advanced wing-back on the left.
From that position, there was a shooting chance for the England international inside a minute of the start but he could not catch his angled strike firmly enough to trouble Vicente Guaita in the Palace goal. Instead it was Crystal Palace who took the lead as early as the seventh minute.
Fofana misplaced a pass inside the Chelsea half and the Eagles quickly worked the ball wide to Jordan Ayew. His cross reached the boot of Odsonne Edouard between the retreating Fofana and Reece James, and the Blues were a goal down.
Buoyed by the quick strike, the Eagles continued the pressure with Kepa forced into a save by Eberechi Eze. Our keeper then claimed the loose ball just in time.
Growing into the game
With 18 minutes gone came a chance of an equaliser but Mount headed wide. Mateo Kovacic had been quickly onto a loose ball and Kai Havertz made space for a cross. Fresh from scoring his first goal of the season, with England on Monday, Mount was visibly angry with himself for missing at the near post.
Sterling soon after had two bites at the cherry after a James low ball in came his way. The first was blocked, the second hit the outside of the post.
Thiago Silva survived a VAR check for a possible red card for denying a goalscoring opportunity after he had handled the ball on the floor (and been booked). It looked very much like the Brazilian had in fact been fouled by Ayew before hitting the turf anyway. The Chelsea players certainly made that point.
Four minutes later, Thiago was making a big difference at the other end with an assist for the Chelsea equaliser. Credit also goes to Reece James who picked out his run up the pitch with a long, diagonal pass. Our centre-back headed the ball down into the penalty area where Aubameyang swivelled superbly before hitting the net with one touch of the ball.
There was drama at the close of the first half when Palace, under pressure (as ever) from Mount, played a pass into the hands of Guaita. However, as the Blues tried to find a gap in the many red and blue shirts in front of the target, Mount struck the free-kick into the sidenetting.
It had been a better ending to the half than the start, but at the interval there was the feeling that much good work would be needed for the visitors to take something from this trip to Selhurst Park.
Leaving it late but worth waiting for
It was Palace with the early initiative after the restart. Not long into the second half Ruben Loftus-Cheek came on for Jorginho who appeared in some pain.
Chilwell shot over and Havertz had a shot blocked but those apart, it was proving a sterile passage of play for good chances. Frustratingly, Sterling could not reach well-placed Mount with his pass when Sterling broke into space. Later Mount would have an opportunity but shot wide.
With 20 minutes left, Kepa was sharp in parrying a firm shot from Wilfried Zaha and then quick to claim the ball when the same Palace man slipped it into the six-yard box dangerously.
Five minutes later, both Armando Broja and Gallagher were brought on. The story was there to be written by the latter, returning to the club where he shone on loan last season but now to do them damage.
Pulisic went on a run and squared to the edge of the area. Gallagher muscled his way past his marker and won the game.
10 out of 10
Palace’s struggles in this London derby in the Premier League era continue. Chelsea have beaten them more in these meetings than any other club. For the Blues, today’s success gives us a 10th consecutive league win against the Eagles for the first time in our history. Against only Sunderland and West Brom have we had longer runs.
Chelsea (4-2-2-2): Kepa; James, Fofana, Thiago Silva, Chilwell; Jorginho (c) (Loftus-Cheek 56), Kovacic; Mount (Pulisic 84), Havertz (Gallagher 76); Sterling, Aubameyang (Broja 76).
Unused subs Bettinelli, Azpilicueta, Chalobah, Koulibaly, Ziyech.
Scorers Aubameyang 37, Gallagher 90
Booked Thiago Silva 32, Mount 52, Kovacic 88
Crystal Palace (4-3-3): Guaita; Clyne (Tomkins 43), Ward (c), Guehi, Mitchell; Olise, Doucoure (Hughes 84), Eze ( Schlupp 74); J Ayew, Edouard (Mateta 74), Zaha.
Unused subs Johnstone, Milivojevic, Ebiowei, Riedewald, Gordon.
Scorer Edouard 7
Booked Edouard 22
Also booked Palace coach Vieira 44
Referee Chris Kavanagh
Crystal Palace vs Chelsea stats
Crystal Palace vs Chelsea - Premier League table
Click to see the standings after today's game
What time are Crystal Palace vs Chelsea highlights available?
Match highlights from this game will be available at 7pm UK time on chelseafc.com and The 5th Stand app. Extended highlights and the full match can be watched from midnight.
Chelsea fixtures - what's next?
Attention switches quickly from the Premier League to the Champions League and the first of two crucial group-stage meetings with Serie A champions AC Milan. This is the home match.
Next fixture: Chelsea vs AC Milan
Date: Wednesday 5 October 2022
Kick-off time: 8pm UK time
Location: Stamford Bridge