CHELSEA 1-2 CRYSTAL PALACE
Chelsea slumped to a shock defeat at Stamford Bridge in Jose Mourinho’s 200th game in charge, as visitors Crystal Palace put in a stunning performance. This was only the Blues’ second ever defeat at home under Mourinho in 100 Premier League games, and their second of the season already. The defending champions now only have 4 points from as many games, and find themselves in 13th place. Palace, on the other hand, climbed upto 2nd.
Chelsea: Courtois, Ivanovic, Zouma, Cahill, Azpilicueta, Matic, Fabregas, Pedro, Willian, Hazard, Diego Costa.
Crystal Palace: McCarthy, Ward, Dann, Delaney, Souare, Cabaye, McArthur, Zaha, Puncheon, Sako, Wickham.
Lively start from Palace:
Mourinho opted to continue with Branislav Ivanovic at right-back despite the Serb’s poor start to the season. He was, in fact, the stand-in captain for the evening with John Terry suspended. Chelsea’s new left-back Abdul Baba Rahman, signed from Augsburg in the summer, was on the bench for the first time.
Most of the goals the Blues have conceded this season have come from their right, and it was apparent that this was the area of the pitch Alan Pardew’s men were going to target. Wilfried Zaha’s pace was always going to be a problem for Ivanovic, and the former Manchester United man was at it right from the fof. It was clear that Palace had not come to Stamford Bridge to sit back and defend, as they won first corner of the game inside the first minute.
A goalless yet entertaining half:
Both teams looked like scoring in the first half, but Chelsea found it very difficult to get in behind a well-drilled Palace backline. Pedro had a left-footed effort which flew just wide, but the likes of Eden Hazard and Diego Costa could not get in the game at all. At the other end, Bakary Sako’s low effort was saved by Thibaut Courtois.
The best chance of the half though, fell to Yohan Cabaye. Zaha turned Ivanovic with ease before laying it off for the Frenchman, but with only the keeper to beat from 10 yards, the midfielder shot weakly straight at Courtois.
The teams went in at half-time level, and Chelsea knew they were in for a real match.
Chelsea’s star struggle to make an impact:
Hazard and Pedro, two players who were brilliant in last week’s win over West Bromwich Albion, went missing big-time in this one. The two wingers hardly got a kick, and even switching wings time and time again didn’t do them any good. The following is the combined heat map of both the players, and it shows much minimal an impact they had on the game.
Palace, on the other hand, were having a great day, and took the lead on 65 minutes. It came from (surprise, surprise) Chelsea’s right hand side as Pedro failed to track back on substitute Yannick Bolasie. The winger’s cutback found Sako, whose initial attempt was blocked by Azpilicueta, but fell back kindly to him. He made no mistake this time, finishing high into the centre of the net to give the visitors a shock but deserved lead.
It should have been 2-0 a few minutes later, when Bolasie somehow managed to fire wide from a cross with just Courtois to beat from 2 yards.
Mourinho’s impact substitutions:
Chelsea’s manager was quick to act, bringing on Brazilian youngster Kenedy for his debut, in place of Azpilicueta. Another youngster, Ruben Loftus-Cheek, was brought on for Nemanja Matic in midfield.
But it was the third substitution that made the telling difference, as Radamel Falcao came on to score the equaliser with his first goal for Chelsea. Pedro, who had been quiet all afternoon, picked the Colombian out with a brilliant cross, but the striker still had a lot to do, as he dived and directed the ball past McCarthy at the near post.
The crowd raised the volume, and it looked like Chelsea had a real chance to go on and get the win.
An unexpected twist:
Quite stunningly though, the winner came at the other end, just 2 minutes later. Chelsea were caught napping yet again, as Zouma failed to stop a cross to the back-post, which was brilliantly cut-back by Sako for Joel Ward to head in his second goal of the season.
The Blues pushed for an equaliser in the 5 minutes of added time at the end of the game, but Palace held firm. Kenedy showed off some of his silky skills, and made more of an impact in 20 minutes than Hazard did in the whole game.
In the end, it was yet another despairing afternoon for Chelsea. Last year, they didn’t lose a single game at home en route to the title, and only lost 3 overall. This season has been a stark contrast, and things will need to change soon if they are to have any chance of catching Manchester City, who are already 8 points ahead.
Jose Mourinho suffers only his second defeat at home in the Premier League. Won: 76 Drawn: 22 Lost: 2 pic.twitter.com/1YsJ7YXVA0
— Squawka Football (@Squawka) August 29, 2015
‘My first thought is to Palace. They came with everything, their team was ready, their players were ready and they came with a fantastic spirit. They were lucky but they deserved the luck, they fought a lot for that.
‘If a player is not performing there are two ways of looking at it. One is I trust so much the player I am going to wait for an improvement, and maybe it comes and maybe it doesn’t. Or even trusting the player, there arrives a moment when you think you have to change.
‘We have eight points less than the leader and in another league I would say game over because in these leagues for top teams it is very difficult to lose so many points. In the Premier League I don’t say game over.
‘The reality is we had a bad start, four points from four matches is a very bad start.’
“It was a really good performance today – one of the best performances I’ve seen from one of my teams in terms of composure. We can frighten teams with our pace and we did that from start to finish. Our defenders had to defend really well and they did.”