Chelsea’s season started in style at a sun-drenched Stamford Bridge with a clean sheet, three goals and three Premier League points on the board on the opening weekend.

Crystal Palace were put to the sword by Thomas Tuchel’s reigning kings of Europe, with Marcos Alonso, Christian Pulisic and Trevoh Chalobah on the scoresheet in the first game in front of a capacity home crowd in south-west London since March 2020.

Alonso broke the deadlock inside half an hour with a customary bending free-kick into the top corner, while Pulisic doubled the advantage before half-time by pouncing on a spilled goalkeeper parry in the box.

With the Blues in control, Chalobah added icing to the cake by drilling in his maiden Chelsea goal from distance. All in all, a perfect day back down the Fulham Road!

The selection

Thomas Tuchel makes five changes from our Super Cup-winning starting team, replacing half the outfielders following a gruelling 120 minutes in Belfast.

Cesar Azpilicueta, Andreas Christensen, Jorginho, Mason Mount and Pulisic were the returning quintet, with N’Golo Kante and Hakim Ziyech absent through injury. Chalobah continued at the back, making his Premier League debut.

New Palace boss Patrick Vieira named former Blues defender Marc Guehi in his first starting 11, with Jordan Ayew and Wilfried Zaha among the preferred attackers.

New season, old sights

This was football how it should be, with the sun shining and Stamford Bridge packed to the rafters with supporters full of hope on the opening day of a new season. However, prior to kick-off there was a moment to reflect on all the lives sadly lost to the pandemic.

The European champions began in the ascendancy, utilising the width of our 3-4-3 against Palace’s back four and making most gains down the flanks.

Skipper Azpilicueta had our first shot of the season early on, picking up a loose ball after Mount had found space in a familiar pocket down the inside-right channel, though the effort was far too high to trouble Vicente Guaita and landed in the once-again populated Shed End.

On the opposite wing, Alonso teed up Pulisic with a teasing delivery but the American’s stooping header flew over.

Magic from Marcos

Mateo Kovacic was wearing his new number eight jersey and attempted to mark the switch with renewed attacking rigour. The Croatian took aim after 13 minutes but saw his shot deflected behind for a corner, starting a succession of set-pieces for the hosts that asked questions of Palace in their own 18-yard box.

Guaita had to be alert to punch away Mount’s dipping free-kick from the left but was unable to do much about a similar effort from Alonso on the other side, which ultimately saw the Blues strike the opener.

The England midfielder was upended on the edge of the area and Alonso stepped up, with his name being sung encouragingly from the home crowd. The 30-year-old did not disappoint those watching on with bated breath, bending the ball beautifully up and over the wall into the top corner.

The sight and sounds of a full Stamford Bridge celebrating a goal for the first time in 17 months was one to savour.

Pushing ahead

Palace have made a number of summer changes, with a new boss and several younger recruits among the ranks, with senior stars including Gary Cahill departing. Yet their transition remains in the early stages and they struggled to offer much forward thrust in the first period, with Chalobah repelling the few advances made into the Bluex box.

Down the other end, Chelsea were drawing more fouls in decent positions, with Mount firing into the wall as we pushed to make the most of our superiority.

Pulisic on the mark

The advantage was doubled moments before the break, with Mount the creative spark once again. Our number 19 exchanged a neat one-two with Azpilicueta before firing a dangerous low cross into the six-yard box.

Guaita parried but only into the direct path of Pulisic, who adjusted smartly to turn the ball in with a left-footed finish for his first goal since the Champions League semi-final in Madrid.

It might have been even better for Tuchel heading into his half-time address as Jorginho sprayed a lovely pass out left to Alonso, who drilled the ball into the feet of Werner. The German did well to make contact but could only hit the side-netting, leaving the Blues with a 2-0 lead at the interval.

Maintaining momentum

The second half started as the first had largely played out, with Alonso close to grabbing a second with a sweet volley from Jorginho’s cross-field pass. Guaita did well on this occasion, getting down low with a strong arm to push the ball away to safety.

The Eagles were still struggling to find their wings but did force Toni Rudiger and Christensen into a spot of defending before the hour mark as Zaha led the charge. The winger skipped into the box but found the German’s frame in between him and the goal, while Christensen hooked the ball behind. From the resulting corner, Jeffrey Schlupp stabbed over.


The moment of the afternoon soon arrived as debutant Chalobah capped a remarkable few days by burying his first Chelsea goal. It was a strike of the highest calibre from the boyhood Blue, who’s been on the books at the club since the age of nine.

Collecting the ball just inside the Palace half and urged to shoot, the defender moved forward before unleashing a precise strike beyond Guaita’s despairing dive and into the back of the net via the underside of the post.

The celebrations were jubilant, with the 22-year-old mobbed by his team-mates and the points surely safely secured.

With half an hour to play, Chelsea’s remaining task was to manage the remainder of the contest, with many players by their manager’s own admission still working towards full fitness. Reece James replaced Azpilicueta and was soon causing problems down the right, firing in a cross towards Werner that was cut out by Joachim Andersen under his own crossbar.

Christian Benteke, also recently introduced from the bench, had Palace’s first effort on target after 63 minutes but Edouard Mendy was equal to it, plucking the ball from the air and snuffing out the danger in an instant.

It was a moment that encapsulated the day’s work, which ended in cheers from the returning Chelsea faithful and a winning start to 2021/22.

What’s next?

A full week to prepare for our trip across the capital to take on Arsenal at the Emirates next Sunday 22 August.

Chelsea (3-4-3) Mendy; Chalobah, Christensen, Rudiger; Azpilicueta (c) (James 66), Jorginho, Kovacic, Alonso (Emerson 86); Pulisic (Havertz 82), Werner, MountUnused subs Kepa, Chilwell, Thiago Silva, Zouma, Hudson-Odoi, AbrahamScorers Alonso 27; Pulisic 40; Chalobah 58

Crystal Palace (4-4-2) Guaita; Ward, Guehi, Kouyate, Mitchell; Schlupp (Andersen 57), Riedewald (Rak-Sakyi 76), McArthur (c), Zaha; Mateta (Benteke 57), AyewUnused subs Butland, Clyne, Kelly, Hannam, Street, Banks

Referee Jonathan MossCrowd 38,965