In their 8th game of the Premier League season, Chelsea visited Selhurst Park to face a struggling Crystal Palace side. Despite their poor showing so far, The Eagles had gathered some momentum with two wins in their last three games.
INITIAL REACTION AND ANALYSIS:
Table toppers Chelsea started the London Derby with a 4-5-1 formation, with Loic Remy as the lone frontman in place of regular starter Diego Costa. Mourinho didn’t make it clear why the Spanish striker was not picked for the match. The atmosphere at Selhurst Park was largely anti-Chelsea, although the two managers had a friendly hand shake.
The kick off took place on time, with the Blues expected to be the dominant side. Both teams managed to penetrate into each other’s penalty areas in the opening two minutes. Chelsea even conceded a corner in the 3rd minute of the game. It wasn’t the best of corners, and the score remained 0-0.
This did not last for long though. Chelsea got a free-kick in the 6th minute for a foul on Willian. Oscar took the free-kick and made his 3rd goal of the season look easy by putting the ball into the top left corner of the net. As expected, Palace adopted a defensive style of play but looked good on the counter. Chelsea, on the other hand, had most of the possession. John Terry, who was making his 500th appearance as Chelsea captain, came close to scoring through a corner in the 19th minute, which was cleared on the line.
As for the rest of the first half, it was fouls galore, filled with crunching challenges. It also included two red cards being shown to Chelsea’s Cesar Azpilicueta in the 40th minute and Palace’s Delaney in the 43rd minute, both for harsh defending. Cesc Fabregas and Fraizer Campbell were also shown yellow cards when the two were involved in an argument. The physical first half came to an end with the West Londoners leading by one goal to nil.
The second half began with Chelsea determined to extend their lead to ensure all 3 points. Those 3 points were almost confirmed in the 51st minute, when Oscar, Hazard and Fabregas were involved in a lovely exchange of intricate passes, resulting in Oscar feeding the ball to Fabregas inside the penalty area and the ex-Barcelona man just could not miss. By this time, the blues had silenced the home crowd and gave the away fans a chance to get behind their team. Chants of ‘Chelsea!! Chelsea!!’ could be heard for the first time in the game.
Chelsea’s dominance over the possession was reduced to some extent in the second half as the Eagles began to keep the ball and find space. Neil Warnock brought on fan favourite Wilfried Zaha, who surely made Warnock regret of not putting him in starting lineup. He beat two Chelsea defenders on the right side of penalty area and Thibaut Courtois to provide an easy grounded cross to Fraizer Campbell just in front of goal, who put the ball in net with just one touch.
The much anticipated London Derby thus ended with a final scoreline of 1-2, with the visitors taking all the three points and also the revenge of that 1-0 defeat in the corresponding fixture last season. Chelsea now sits comfortably in 1st place with 22 points from 8 matches. The undefeated streak still continues!!
Edited By: Vikram Vadiganeni