Big win given the circumstances!
Chelsea travelled to Selhurst Park on Saturday afternoon to play Crystal Palace for MW 26 of the Premier League season. Palace had drawn their last two games and had not won in any of their last few. Tuchel selected a strong lineup with Mendy in goal and a back four of Christensen, Silva, Rudiger, and Sarr. Kante and Jorginho made up the midfield with Havertz, Pulisic, and Ziyech playing behind Lukaku up top. A strong lineup and one which many expected would score some goals.
The game was a stop start one and end to end. Chelsea had two good chances in the first half with Kante and Pulisic going close. Rudiger forced Guaita into a fine save from long range. The 2nd half saw Chelsea drop off and as the game went on Palace gained momentum. The Eagles still failed to register a shot on target as Chelsea’s defence stayed strong. Chelsea scored a late goal after Kovacic played through Lukaku who’s shot deflected into the path of Ziyech but Lukaku was offside. The game looked like it was heading for a draw but Alonso delivered a good cross to the far post and Ziyech pulled in behind to volley it past Butland to give Chelsea all three points. A smash and grab performance but with Liverpool winning and City losing it was important Chelsea did not drop points.
Chelsea Team Review
A clean sheet return for Mendy and he had nothing to do for much of the game. No shots on target for Palace but there were some nearly there shots. This is clean sheet no 9 for Mendy in the league this season and hopefully many more are to come.
A clean sheet for the back four this time. We were essentially playing four centre backs with Christensen, and Sarr playing as makeshift full backs. They did a decent job but there was very little attacking threat. Sarr did put a good ball in which Kante should have scored. Silva, and Rudiger were solid as usual. Alonso came on in the 2nd half and delivered the assist that got Ziyech the winner. An overall good performance.
Kante, and Jorginho were not required in this game as we had majority of the possession. Kante is wasted in forward areas because attacking is not his game. It wasn’t a great outing. Kovacic had an instant impact when he came on as he started to play balls through the middle of the pitch. Loftus-Cheek also came on and had a decent impact but he was returning from injury.
Another night to forget for the attack. Pulisic was good in the first half but playing as an attacking midfielder he didn’t enjoy the same freedom he would have on the wing. Havertz did a good job overall as he worked hard off the ball and was phyiscal in his challenged. Lukaku was extremely poor and only had SEVEN touches over the whole game. I don’t care whether it’s the system or the players no one should only register seven touches and Tuchel was visibly frustrated with him. Ziyech was the only silverlining as he was a constant threat down the right hand side again. A game winning goal on two occasions and he continues to step up.
Tuchel said that the team was jet lagged and a few of the players were suffering from a cold. He said he was not expecting too much from the team in this game having played two extra time games over the last few weeks. All Tuchel will care about is the three points from this result but he would not have liked how little some players offered to the team.
Chelsea remain 3rd in the table with the win seven points behind Liverpool and 13 behind Man City with a game in hand over them. All Chelsea can do at this stage is go on a run and take it one game at a time. Next up is a visit by reigning French Champions Lille in the Champions League Round of 16 first leg tie. COME ON CHELSEA!!!