Chelsea v Palace

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Chelsea made hard early work of their home Premier League match against Crystal Palace on Saturday, before cruising to a 4-0 win with a more impressive second half.

The first half saw the hosts dominate possession without ever really threatening, as clear-cut chances were hard to come by at both ends, though Timo Werner had a shot saved and Tammy Abraham was denied from a narrow angle.

Minutes after the restart, however, Chelsea found the breakthrough: a ball to the back post fell Ben Chilwell’s way and he hammered home from close range.

It was a little more of an open affair thereafter, but Kurt Zouma looped in a header after the hour mark to double Chelsea’s lead and Jorginho scored two late penalties to wrap up the win.

Here are five things we learned from the game at Stamford Bridge.

Mendy displaces the birthday boy

It wasn’t the present Kepa Arrizabalaga would have wanted from his manager.

On the day of his 26th birthday, the Spanish stopper, the most expensive goalkeeper in football history, found out for sure that he has been firmly demoted to second-choice.

New signing Edouard Mendy came in to make his Premier League debut and would probably have been wondering what all the fuss was about 45 minutes in; halfway through the game, the most exertion he had needed to muster was to deal with a couple of back passes from his defence.

There was slightly more to deal with after the break, but given his biggest problem came from a Chilwell chest-down back to him, it’s fair to suggest he’ll have busier days ahead to show why Chelsea see him as the answer to Kepa’s errors.

Wide forwards fail to shine

There has been lots of deserved and rightful praise gone the way of Ebe Eze since signing for Crystal Palace, but he barely affected the game on this occasion, unable to get on the ball in dangerous areas for his team who were passive and slow.

He wasn’t the only one, though, with Chelsea’s Callum Hudson-Odoi not impressing either in the opposite direction.

The English wide man has been linked with Bayern Munich again, but got his chance here – and whether still a lack of fitness or game rhythm, he didn’t present a compelling case to be a must-have on Frank Lampard’s team-sheet. A couple of crosses aside, his game was predictable and easy stopped by Tyrick Mitchell.

There were wide options playing as forwards, too, who didn’t have the best game: Wilf Zaha looks as though he won’t have any suitors this transfer window and was entirely anonymous at Stamford Bridge, while Timo Werner played wide left and was unable to make his usual runs in behind or see chances fall his way.

Palace endeavour

Roy Hodgson’s side have started the season reasonably well, due to excellent work rate and organisation in their 4-4-2, but mixed with counter-attacking intent and in-form forwards.

None of the latter was on show at Stamford Bridge, with a lack of numbers committed forward and Chelsea able to quickly mop up loose second balls.

While they were definitely compact and hard-working in the first 45 minutes, there were also plenty of individual mistakes and lapses in concentration after falling behind.

Two late tackles gave away very easy penalties, while a missed clearance from Mamadou Sakho led indirectly to the opener. Not one of the Eagles’ better days out, all things considered.

Chilwell impact

The long search for a left-back as ended with Chelsea spending big on Ben Chilwell, who was seen as a more reliable defensive option than the likes of Marcos Alonso.

It was a little ironic, then, that the former Leicester man had such a big impact going forward, while his areas for improvement were clearly in communication and organisation in the defensive third.

More than once he was caught out of position or beaten with an overlap, but Chilwell made the difference at the other end.

A thunderbolt finish put his side in front, then a perfect delivery assisted Zouma for the killer second goal. He will surely be a tremendous long-term solution once Chelsea’s much-changed back line is working fully in tandem.

Updated objectives

Last season there were fairly clear aims for both these teams: Palace wanted to avoid any kind of relegation fight, while Chelsea wanted the top four. Both ultimately achieved those targets, albeit with a horrid end to the campaign for Roy Hodgson’s side.

This term, it’s clear from their work in the transfer market that both teams are hoping for rather more.

Palace are planning rather more medium-term with a couple of their new recruits, but they have also made them a more potent team on the ball going forward – a top-half assault should be their big, if ambitious, objective to aim for.

As for Chelsea, it’s clear this is a full-on tilt for the title, if not this year then next. Frank Lampard will be judged by how close he gets to the top two after such enormous expenditure, and it’s clear there’s a way to go – but three points is another stepping stone toward where the club want to be.




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