Chelsea still hanging around the cool kids at the top of the table


Chelsea 3 : 1 Crystal palace

There’s a common viewpoint that Crystal Palace are a better side than their league position might reflect and Chelsea are not quite title contenders despite the league table.

Today’s derby encounter between the sides separated by less than nine miles of southern London will do little to dissuade those widely held beliefs. Those who had watched Manchester City’s first half dismemberment of Southampton will have seen few similarities between City and Chelsea and even fewer between Southampton and Palace.

That said, the Blues are still right up there level on 27 points with the more fancied Liverpool side.

It took 31 minutes before the Eagles cracked under moderate but less than incisive Chelsea pressure. Pedro crossed once and was fortunate to receive a second chance. He patiently reput the ball in much the same place and this time Alvaro Morata controlled it with his left and swiveled on that foot to score with his right.

It is 30 months since Chelsea lost a league game having lead at half time but they did not continue that record without a rude awakening.

After ten one sided minutes to begin the second half, Palace leveled out of nothing and against the run of play. Andros Townsend ran onto a delightful through ball and finished coolly for his first league goal of the season.

Chelsea fired back but David Luiz put a header from Willian’s free kick way too near Wayne Hennessey in the Eagles’ goal.

At that point Eden Hazard entered the fray for Ross Barkley. Within 90 seconds, his free kick had been turned into the Palace net by Morata for his second, and the winning goal. Four minute later Pedro steered in an Alonso flat cross with the Palace defenders appearing to finally mentally tire, for Pedro’s fourth of the season and perhaps a flattering scoreline for the home side.

Morata should have had a hat trick but he just failed to chip the ball over Hennessey when he could have rounded him to make it 4-1.

Palace had won this fixture twice in the last three seasons so Chelsea will consider it a banana skin avoided. They are still unbeaten but at some point they have to face Manchester City. They won’t be in a hurry while the league table looks so good.

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