Chelsea have lost once 2-1 at home to Crystal Palace in a game that once again shows the defensive fragility of the team.
Chelsea linked up well on the right hand side early on, Willian and Pedro showing great understanding for only their second game together. The earliest advance into the away side’s area resulted in a shot from Pedro and an wide attempt from Ivanovic after the the Spaniard’s was blocked.
Both sides were keen to get forward and put pressure on the other in the first ten minutes, and it was in fact Palace that won the first couple of corners. Despite that the game soon drifted into the expected pattern of Chelsea having possession with Palace sititng back and hoping to counter-attack. They did so in the 25th minute when Sakho was put in down the left and forced a good save from Courtois.
The Belgian ‘keeper was Chelsea’s savour five minutes later when Palace finished a good period of pressure with a shot from Cabaye- the Frenchman receiving the ball from Zaha but couldn’t finish from just inside the penalty area.
The pressure from Palace ceased after that, and it was the Blues who finished the half the stronger with both Costa and Fabregas coming close. Azpilicueta crossed from the left but Costa couldn’t connect at the far post. A few minutes later it was once again two Spain internationals that almost opened the scoring. Costa shot from the edge of the box but his shot was pushed out to the feet of Cesc Fabregas, the attempt from whom was also prevented by the combination of Palace’keeper McCarthy and Scott Dann in defence.
Chelsea have passed the ball well and have been willing to take shots when the goal is in their sights. Palace have defended deeply and well so far, as well as looked dangerous on the counter attack. Chelsea will have to be patient if they are to win this match, and Jose Mourinho may look to the bench in order to unlock Alan Pardew’s well organised side.
The second half began very quickly with both sides attacking early on and having sights on goal. Costa was felled and appealed for a penalty, and he then prevented his international teammate Pedro from connecting with a run from deep- the former Barcelona forward would have had a clear shot on goal in the penalty box had Costa just left it.
Sakho had a shot from the left hand side again that Courtois had to push around the post, and Palace continued to get forward, not at all intimidated by playing at the defending Premiership Champions. It was still the home side that looked the more likely, however, with Ivanovic and Zouma having volleys from outside the box after Fabregas drifted in a free kick from the left. Gary Cahill had a header cleared off the line, and then failed to make contact when the ball was bouncing around the area, and Hazard had a shot cleared behind.
Chelsea’s pressure came to nothing and Stamford Bridge was shocked in the 65th minute when Sakho scored at the third time of asking, in what was by far his easiest chance, when he finished with his right foot from the centre of the penalty area. The ball had been cut back from the dead ball line and the attempt initially blocked by Azpilicueta, but Sakho scored with Courtois and the goal at his mercy.
Chelsea were caught out far too easily once again, and their defensive flaws were obvious to see just a few minutes later when Sakho this time became provider for Bolasie who missed a fantastic chance to finish the game when he inexplicably missed at the far post. Jose Mourinho made a number of changes in response, one of whom paid off in the 78th minute when Radamal Falcao headed in a great cross from Pedro to equalise at the near post. Once the relief of being level again had died down, Chelsea were behind. Barely two minutes after Falcao’s goal, Ward put Palace back ahead after heading into an almost empty net after Sakho had knocked back Bolasie’s cross to the delirium of the travelling fans behind that goal and the dismay of the home ones.
Ivanovic failed to finish when the ball dropped to him in the area after Zouma headed down another Fabregas free kick as Chelsea started to become desperate. Fabregas had a shot from outside the area that McCarthy pushed away. He had another chance in stoppage time which was blocked again. The game drifted away from Chelsea and Jose Mourinho’s 100th at Stamford Bridge ended in defeat. It isn’t clear whether or not they will strengthen before the transfer window is closed, but it certainly appears that they need to. They may be willing to pay whatever price Everton are holding out for John Stones after this awful display.