Goals; Chelsea- Morata (32′, 65′) Pedro (70′)
Crystal Palace- Townsend (53′)
A rare brace from Alvaro Morata and a Pedro goal were enough for Chelsea to overcome Crystal Palace in the Premier League today.
Surprisingly, the first half started with Crystal Palace coming fast out of the blocks and pouncing on sloppy Chelsea passing from the likes of Barkley and Kante. However Palace only really created 1 chance in the first half which came in the 19th minute, when Zaha pulled the ball back across the box and it fell to Meyer at the edge of the box, and his shot sailed over Kepa’s bar. Chelsea started really poorly and struggled to penetrate a stubborn Palace defense early with Chelsea only having half chances early in the match through Pedro and Willian. But as the half grew on, Chelsea grew into the game and their first major chance turned into a goal when Pedro’s shot from inside the box inadvertently fell to Morata who controlled well and spun and shot past Hennessey to give Chelsea a 1-0 lead after a slow start. That was Morata’s 4th league goal this season already, which is more than Lukaku and Firmino! This was also the first time that Alvaro Morata has scored in back-to-back premier league matches for Chelsea since November 2017.
Shortly after, Chelsea thought that they had gone 2-0 up, but the linesman’s flag denied Willian a goal. The replay showed that the call was really tight but arguably was just about the right decision. That was a relief for Palace…
The only other Chelsea chance before halftime felt to Morata after a well-worked free kick found the head of Morata who glanced his header over the bar. So at halftime, it was 1-0 to Chelsea and Crystal Palace was still well and truly in this game going into the second half.
The Second half started in the same way as the first, however, the difference was that Palace was rewarded with their fast start this time, when in the 52nd minute, McArthur slipped through Townsend after poor defending from Luiz, and he finished well on his weaker foot into the bottom corner to get Palace level. Was Palace (Chelsea’s bogey team) going to be the team that inflicted Chelsea’s first defeat of the season? Not quite … as Chelsea responded well after the Palace equalizer with Luiz having 2 header chances to give Chelsea the lead which he failed to convert.
But the key moment in the second half was the substitution of Hazard for Willian, because moments after Hazard came on, from a free kick in the 65 minute, his delivery fell to an unmarked Morata at the back post who drilled it low past Hennessey to give Chelsea a 2-1 lead. That was Morata’s 5th goal of the season! Not bad at all considering all his critics going into this season. Chelsea then kicked on and grabbed the third goal in the game with Pedro finishing an Alonso cross from the left-hand side of the pitch. As the game drifted towards the end, the question on everyone’s lips was; Can Morata bag his second hatrick for Chelsea?
The Answer was no, as in the 93rd minute, Morata was played through by Hazard after a Palace corner, and failed to convert his chance to grab his hatrick after attempting a chip which Hennessey anticipated and made the save as a result. And that was to be the final action as Chelsea won 3-1 in the London Derby. Even though Morata didn’t grab his hatrick at the end, he still had a brilliant game for Chelsea today.
Player Ratings out of 10
Chelsea (Manager: Maurizio Sarri)- Kepa- 6 (didn’t have much to do and wasn’t at fault for Palace’s goal), Alonso- 7 (defensively caught out a lot but gained an assist for Pedro’s goal), Azpilicueta- 6 (defensively suspect again but did alright going forward), Luiz- 5 (was at fault for the goal, and should have scored 2 goals), Rüdiger- 6 (decent performance), Jorginho- 7 (Instrumental in the midfield), Kante- 5 (Surprisingly poor today. Kept giving the ball away cheaply), Barkley- 5 (same reasons as Kante), Willian- 6 (probing well in final third but not creating enough chances), Pedro- 7 (grabbed a valuable goal), Morata- 9- Man of the Match (Played really well today. grabbed 2 goals and unfortunate not to have bagged an hatrick. Very good movement off the ball from him today). Subs; Hazard-8 (changed the game when subbed on. Got the assist for Morata’s second goal), Kovacic- 7 (better than Barkley today), Fabregas- 5 (didn’t have enough time to do anything).
Manager rating- Maurizio Sarri- 8- picked the right team and integrated Hazard well into the second half
Crystal Palace (Manager: Roy Hodgson)- Hennessey- 5 (Could have done better for Morata’s second goal), Wan Bissaka- 7 (Very promising with his attacking and defensive work today), Van Aanholt- 7 (played well like Wan Bissaka), Sakho- 5 (conceded 3 goals), Tomkins- 5 (conceded 3 goals), Milivojevic- 6 (rash in some challenges), Kouyate- 5 (average), McArthur- 6 (got the assist for Townsend’s goal), Meyer- 5 (average- should have done better with the one chance that he had in the game), Townsend- 7 (brilliant goal), Zaha (caused Chelsea defenders problems but no end product today). Subs; Ayew- 6 (bright when he came on), Schlupp- 5 (didn’t have enough time to impact game).
Manager rating- Roy Hodgson- 6- Can’t really blame him today. Picked the best side he had today. Maybe should have played a natural number 9 in Sørloth.
Chelsea Crystal Palace
Possession (%) 74 26
Shots 15 7
Shots on Target 6 2
Corners 4 2
Fouls 6 13
What the managers had to say
Chelsea manager- Maurizio Sarri
Asked after the match whether Morata can be the main striker at one of the main clubs in the world, Sarri told BBC Sport: “I don’t know. I think potentially he can.
“He has to improve more in personality and in confidence because sometimes he’s a little bit fragile.”
Crystal Palace manager- Roy Hodgson
“The season has got a lot of football left in it and there are many more games to play,” said Hodgson.
“I’m fairly confident with the players we have and the way we play that results will come. If you continue to perform at the right level the results have got to follow.”
Position in Premier League table
Chelsea moves up to second place in the Premier league table with 27 points, joint with Liverpool, but they have a better goal difference than Liverpool. Chelsea remains 2 points off Manchester City after their impressive 6-1 thumping of Southampton today. Crystal Palace is 14th in the table with 8 points, with some difficult fixtures to come in the next few weeks…
Next Games for both teams
Chelsea is next in Europa League action on Thursday where they take on BATE Borisov away in Belarus at 5:55 pm (UK time). They are next in Premier League action on Sunday when they face Everton at home at 2:15 pm (UK time). Whereas for Crystal Palace, they next play Tottenham in another London Derby next Saturday at home at 5:30 pm (UK time).
Check out Chivers and Ron ‘Chopper’ Harris’s post-match analysis podcast on Sportstalkline.com
By Danyal Khan