Maurizio Sarri’s Chelsea side welcomed a Palace side who had been down on their luck in recent weeks, although last week’s draw with in-form Arsenal will no doubt have boosted their spirits.
Chelsea started without red hot Eden Hazard. He had to settle for a spot on the bench as Sarri opted for Willian and Pedro either side of Alvaro Morata to start the match. It was Palace, however, who looked brightest out the gate. Zaha and Townsend worked the ball wide and caught out Chelsea’s Spanish fullback duo on a few occasions in the opening 20 minutes.
Despite the nervy start the Blues grew into the game more and more. In the 32nd minute Pedro hit a low ball into the area for Alvaro Morata to control and convert on the turn for the home side to take the lead.
Half time came and went without much more action. Palace’s lack of a real finisher was showing more and more as time went on. Then, Andros Townsend was sent through the Chelsea lines seemingly out of nowhere. Bursting away from David Luiz he made no mistake with the finish, burying it low beyond Kepa’s reach and sending the travelling Red and Blue army into hysterics.
Hazard makes the difference
The introduction of star man Eden Hazard would be the catalyst for Chelsea’s turnaround as the Belgian back heeled a pass forwards, drew a foul and then curled the ball across the Palace area to the feet of Morata to guide home his second.
It marks a potential turnaround for the Spaniard, who’s disappointing start compared to fellow big money hitmen like Alexandre Lacazette and Romelu Lukaku caused him to draw a lot of criticism, but who now has 5 goals in his last 6. By the way, Hazard managed all this in his first 90 seconds on the pitch.
FPL mainstay Marcos Alonso would help put the icing on the cake for the fans at Stamford Bridge (and no doubt the 46.9% of players with him in their fantasy team) as he made a trademark run down the flank and crossed low into the middle, where fellow Spaniard Pedro rushed in to seal the game with the third. Morata nearly had his hattrick in extra time too, however he inexplicably decided to try and chip Wayne Hennessey whilst one on one.
Not that the Blues will mind to much however, as they now sit 2nd in the table and maintain pace with the other 2 unbeaten sides, Liverpool and Chelsea. Maurizio Sarri equals a Premier League record too, unbeaten in his first 11 league games.
Palace on the other hand can take some positives from their early dominance, but the lack of a real goalscorer cost them once again and extends their winless run to 6 games, something Roy Hodgson will hope to turnaround very soon if he doesn’t want to be looking over his shoulder by Christmas.