Match Opinion: Crystal Palace 2-1 Chelsea
After league seven games without scoring a point or a goal, Crystal Palace took on the champions at Selhurst Park. Could we do the unthinkable and win?
|Milivojevic 71′, Dann 83′||Yellow Cards||Bakayoko 87′|
|Azpilicueta (o.g.) 11′, Zaha 45′||Goal Scorers||Bakayoko 18′|
The Expat Eagle’s Verdict
When the team was revealed at 14.00 I and quite a few other’s were perplexed. Sure, we are in dire straits and we don’t have the luxury of having a decent squad depth but even so, we were not expecting a front two of Townsend and Zaha.
Like with all dilemmas, in hindsight it was a good choice and it paid off for us.
How many times have we seen a disastrous situation spawn a partnership which captured the imagination? Be it the Lineker-Beardsley partnership in the 1986 World Cup or any that happened before or since sometimes when you have no options you strike lucky.
Going forward we’ll see if the Townsend-Zaha partnership is something that can be worked on and will prove to be a long-term solution to our lack of goalscoring or if it just happened to be a good fit today. Either way we had more pace, power and creativity today than at any time I can remember since Christian Benteke arrived at the club.
At the other end of the pitch, Julian Speroni was a welcome addition to the starting line-up.
As I say often, this is a match opinion piece and not a match report but I can say this was the best Palace performance I have seen for a very long time. Sure, last season we beat Arsenal, Chelsea and Liverpool during the run-in but quite often it was a backs to the wall performance or a smash and grab effort.
Except for the Arsenal game at the end of last season, today was probably the best performance from a Palace team that I have seen since Spurs away in the cup in February 2016. That day I was so proud of how we played I was actually in tears at the final whistle.
That day I was so proud of how we played I was actually in tears at the final whistle. Today there were no tears that was more because I was Skyping my brother while we followed the game.
We fully deserved the victory today. We rode our luck once or twice but had it not been for some piss poor finishing (if both sides took their chances) we’d have scored more than Chelsea today.
Our first goal was a little fortunate. You need that sometimes and we’ve been unlucky until today so we were due some luck.
Townsend got to the byline and poked the ball back across the area to Cabaye who wasn’t able to control it. Luiz swung a foot to clear the ball which hit Cabaye and then bounced off Azpilicueta’s chest, sending Courtois the wrong way. In all honesty had the ball not taken a deflection then Courtois would have had a comfortable save.
But like I said, we were due some luck.
Chelsea equalised from a corner. Bakayoko jumped unmarked and nodded the header off the turf and into the corner from which it came. Speroni was rooted to the spot, not by the speed of the ball but because he didn’t react.
Don’t get me wrong, I love Speroni and I am not a fan of Hennessey but had the latter been in goal then the fans would have been slaughtering him. Rightly so. With that in mind, I have to criticise Speroni for not reacting even if he probably wouldn’t have kept it out.
Chelsea’s goal coincided with them getting back into the game after it had been pretty much all Palace. As the half wore on it became more even until just before halftime Sakho won the ball just outside the Chelsea
As the half wore on it became more even until just before halftime Sakho won the ball just outside the Chelsea area and slid the ball to Zaha who had a bit of luck when wrong-footing a Chelsea defender. He found himself with a sight of goal and curled it around Courtois and into the far corner.
It was a fantastic goal. Great anticipation and a neat pass by Sakho and a good turn and finish by Zaha. Maybe things are paying off on the training ground?
The second half was much like the first, minus the goals. We had the better, clear-cut chances which we fluffed. Chelsea had some good chances but they were from more difficult positions.
When we missed our chances they felt like it would have been easier to score than miss whereas Chelsea’s felt like the opposite.
When the final whistle blew though it felt like a major relief, in truth we’d been giving as good as we got in the 5 minutes of added time. They could have equalised and we could have got two goals had confidence been higher.
This really does bode well for the rest of the season if we can play at the level we played today.
My worry is, if we play like this more often then maybe Steve Parish’s cheque book will start to close again.
Verdict: A thoroughly well-deserved victory against the English champions.
|Crystal Palace (442)||6.72||Chelsea (343)||6.79|
Match rating courtesy of WhoScored.
|Ball Possession %
Match statistics courtesy of WhoScored.