The Premier League's ninety-two remaining games, spread across nine rounds of games are set to play out beginning June 17th 2020, with Project Restart's health and safety conditions meaning the remaining games of the season will be played out behind closed doors. We will be providing match reports from these behind closed doors competitive encounters as the league campaign nears its end-game. All aboard.
Match Report (GW34): Crystal Palace 2-3 Chelsea
Crystal Palace host a Chelsea team who can go third this evening with a win over their London rivals. Palace have struggled for form since their win over Bournemouth in the first game of the restart and are looking to claim a Blues scalp to find their rhythm again. Sporting their new ‘arctic blue’ away kit, Chelsea need to be ice cold in front of Vincente Guaita’s goal to get the win they need to put Leicester under pressure.
The game didn’t start how the Eagles wanted, with a double blow in the 6th minute of action. Willian drove into the Palace box and teed up Giroud for his second goal in consecutive games. During Willian’s drive Gary Cahill fell over, presumably picking up a hamstring or muscle injury, but Chelsea continue the attack to score. Mamadou Sakho came on to replace Cahill who limped off, and just a minute later Zouma could have added a second goal from a corner that just went wide of the goal from a powerful header.
The Blues were dominating the match, with Kepa rarely troubled, and they did double their lead on Palace when Pulisic found space in the box following a Willian pass and the American smashed it into the inside post of Guaita. Pulisic also showed his vision, with the American picking out Willian in the 32nd minute completely unmarked, and Guaita prevented a third goal with a low save of real quality to deny the Brazilian.
Guaita’s save kept Palace in this match, and their luck changed when a drive from Patrick van Aanholt into the Chelsea half saw him play in Zaha, the Eagles talisman then unleased a thunderbolt shot in the 35th minute from thirty five yards out that Kepa couldn’t save to give Palace a lifeline in this match. Kepa should have done better, but due to the pace and quality of the strike he can be forgiven for misjudging the angle of the spectacular shot. The first half was an exciting affair, with everything to still play for in the second half.
Following the break both teams went out with a point to prove, it wasn’t a half that slowed down its intensity, it only got more captivating. Giroud in the 53rd minute could have got his second goal, the Frenchman headed over the bar instead of an empty net. Palace were dominating possession, and were racking up shots and chances. The drinks break couldn’t have come at a better time for Lampard’s team, and just before they introduced Loftus-Cheek and Abraham to replace Giroud and Barkley in the 65th minute.
Unfortunately for Palace, the drinks break ruined the flow of the game for them, and it enabled Chelsea to refresh their game plan with tactical coaching, and within minutes of the break they had gotten their third goal. Ruben Loftus-Cheek had a driving run towards the Palace box, and he dinks a lovely pass to fellow substitute Tammy Abraham who finds the back-post corner to deliver a blow for a fighting Eagles side. The drinks break and substitutes have paid off for Lampard, who will also be relieved after Palace were dominating the game. Tammy Abraham will be relieved as this was his first goal in eleven games, and Loftus-Cheek adding to Lampard’s midfield dilemma.
The heads of the Palace players refused to drop, and in the next attacking play in the 72nd minute Benteke got onto the end of a van Aanholt cross and hit back with a long overdue goal. Palace had reduced Chelsea’s lead to just one goal for the second time in the match. The remainder of the half was Chelsea pinned into their half, and the game climaxed when Palace had shot after shot, with Chelsea feeling that luck was now dictating the game. Scott Dann hit the bar in the 95th minute, which saved Kepa’s blushes in the Chelsea goal, and the Blues managed to hang on for a nervy win.
Chelsea go third, just, relying on a Leicester loss to retain their newfound third place spot on the Premier League table.
Goal Contributions: Crystal Palace
Goals: Zaha (1), Benteke (1)
Assists: van Aanholt (2)
Goal Contributions: Chelsea
Goals: Giroud (1), Pulisic (1), Abraham (1)
Assists: Willian (2), Loftus-Cheek (1)
Man of the Match: Willian (CHE)
How do we pick the best player from that match? It was a real treat to watch, and looking back, the Chelsea win was completely dependent on the Blues resolve. The defence didn’t help their cause, and whilst Pulisic may have once again had another defining strike, it was Willian who had the heaviest influence in this game.
Our resident Chelsea fan in the team Phil agrees that Willian deserves to be praised for this match, citing that it wasn’t his two assists for Pulisic and Giroud goals in the opening half wasn’t the only factor for his standout performance. Phil spotted just how many times Willian tracked his man, helping Reece James who was positionally wobbly, and was the first person to make a run on the counter. Willian has five goals and three assists in his last six games and has been the most productive Chelsea player in the restart. Willian helped steady the ship and provide the creativity in this wonderful game of football.
CRY 2-3 CHE - Insight and Analysis:
This game was a fantastic watch as a neutral, with goals from both sides that make the Premier League such an attraction. The league is getting back to what it used to be without the fans there, but that said, Palace have suffered without their fans at the boisterous Selhurst Park which normally have a zealous supporting that pushes on the team to compete. Zaha’s goal would have been even better with crazed fans celebrating it.
Frank Lampard is building something at Chelsea that is extremely dangerous. They remind me of Liverpool pre-Virgil van Dijk. They must go full throttle in attack because they can’t trust their defence in seeing out games, as Palace did cause them more problems as they grew into the game. With Timo Werner and Hakim Ziyech on their way to London, their attack is only going to get better, and it wouldn’t surprise me if Lampard wanted to secure a better goalkeeper than Kepa, and upgrade on his central defenders to complete the jigsaw puzzle he is assembling. If Chelsea get their van Dijk equivalent, Chelsea will be an exciting outfit next season. Their attacking play is very appealing on the eye, and Lampard is now refining that for next season.
Venue: Selhurst Park
Manager: Roy Hodgson
GK: Vincente Guaita
LB: Patrick van Aanholt
CB: Scott Dann
CB: Gary Cahill (M. Sakho, 8’)
RB: Joel Ward
CDM: Luka Milivojevic (Meyer, 89’)
CM: Cheikhou Kouyaté
CM: James McArthur (McCarthy, 80’)
LW: Wilfried Zaha
RW: Jordan Ayew (Townsend, 80’)
ST: Christian Benteke
Max Meyer, Andros Townsend, Mamadou Sakho, Wayne Hennessey, James McCarthy, Jaïro Riedewald, Sam Woods, Tyrick Mitchell, Brandon Pierrick
Manager: Frank Lampard
LB: Cesar Azpilicueta
CB: Andreas Christensen
CB: Kurt Zouma
RB: Reece James
CDM: Billy Gilmour (Jorginho, 80’)
CM: Mason Mount
CM: Ross Barkley (Loftus-Cheek, 65’)
LW: Christian Pulisic
ST: Olivier Giroud (Abraham, 65’)
Antonio Rüdiger, Marcos Alonso, Jorginho, Tammy Abraham, Pedro, Ruben Loftus-Cheek, Willy Caballero, Callum Hudson-Odoi, Michy Batshuayi
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