Chelsea 2-0 Crystal Palace: Six wins in a row for Frank Lampard’s side, who move up to second
The last time Lampard faced Crystal Palace as a player he lost 2-1 whilst playing for Manchester City in 2015.
His final game against the Eagles for Chelsea also ended in defeat – John Terry’s own goal providing Palace with a 1-0 win.
Here at Stamford Bridge, the Chelsea manager needn’t have been so glum.
Tammy Abraham scored as Chelsea made it six straight Premier League wins, beating a Crystal Palace side lacking creativity
Abraham netted his tenth top-flight goal of the campaign with a classy finish in the second half at Stamford Bridge
The Englishman’s strike earned a deserved lead after a first-half of relentless pressure on the well organised Palace defence
Palace fell to their third defeat in four games, slowing their progress after a blistering start which had them in the early top six
Six consecutive Premier League wins is some achievement. Even more so for a manager experiencing his first campaign as a top-flight boss.
But you get the impression this is merely the start for Chelsea and Lampard.
They toiled for much of this game, but the fact they managed to get over the line with plenty left in the tank tells you plenty about this fledgling team Lampard has assembled.
This didn’t have to the buzz of their breathtaking comeback against Ajax in midweek. This was mature and controlled – exactly how the legendary former Blues midfielder would have liked it.
Pulisic added the second to continue his incredible scoring run, the American netting his fifth in three Premier League games
Pulisic has been a revelation since his hat-trick vs Burnley, proving a boost as Chelsea tighten their grip on a top four spot
This victory providing more tangible proof that Chelsea’s start to the season isn’t a flash in the pan – that they are, indeed, the real deal.
At half time, Lampard trudged off down the tunnel with the look of a man with the weight on his shoulders – not a manager looking for his sixth straight Premier League win.
His mood was understandable, in fairness. Chelsea were dominant in the way you’d expect at home to club without a win in three matches.
Christian Pulisic’s trickery and directness was causing Palace’s rearguard problems, while Reece James full top-flight debut for the club was going swimmingly as he nullified Wilfried Zaha’s threat like he’d played over 300 games.
It was Chelsea’s difficulties in creating clear cut opportunities that was clearly eating away at their manager.
Willian had another instrumental performance, as the resurgent Brazilian set up Abraham’s opener with a classy flick
Reece James and Wilfred Zaha were engaged in a fascinating battle, which James dominated in his first Premier League start
Palace were defending stoutly; marshalled by Gary Cahill, who on his first return to Stamford Bridge was part of an Eagles rearguard who were excellent for the opening 45 minutes.
Tammy Abraham was feeding off scraps, though Pulisic did find himself in threatening positions inside the Palace box only to fall at the final hurdle.
A trio of threatening free kicks – taken by Willian, Emerson Palmieri and Mason Mount – all failed to trouble Vicente Guaita in the Palace goal.
Palace were showing little ambition in attack – a Luka Milivojevic free-kick that sailed harmlessly wide their most dangerous moment.
Gary Cahill returned to Stamford Bridge after leaving in the summer. The center-back has been vital in Palace’s strong start
Cahill – who won the Champions League and two Premiership titles with Chelsea – did well to largely deal with Abraham
Not that Palace’s lack of potency in the final third would have been too much of an issue for Roy Hodgson at this stage.
The onus was on Chelsea to making the running here. To an extent they were – but certainly not sufficiently enough to keep their manager satisfied.
Palace were forced into a defensive change just before the break, Joel Ward pulling up with a groin injury to be replaced by Martin Kelly.
But even then, after all their frustrations, Chelsea should have fired themselves ahead with the final kick of the opening period.
Ngolo Kante’s early season has been blighted by injury, as the Frenchman returned after missing the last three games
Abraham looked certain to poke him James’ low cross from close range only to miss his kick – but even then Willian appeared odds on to send Chelsea in on a high as he loomed to drill home the loose ball.
But the Brazilian didn’t bank on former team-mate Cahill producing the sort of goal-saving block that had the home fans chanting his name throughout this encounter.
Under Lampard, though, this Chelsea team are becoming increasingly adept finding a way – Tuesday’s heroic comeback from 4-1 down against Ajax testament to their resilience.
Seven minutes into the second the Blues finally reared their teeth – Abraham cooly slotting past Guaita following Willian’s utterly sumptuous first time flick from Matteo Kovacic’s pass.
The move was unerring, the finish just as ruthless. Abraham heads into England’s fixtures against Montenegro and Kosovo with his scintillating form showing little sign of abating.
Frank Lampard was frustrated in the first-half by an organised Palace, but Chelsea found a way through in the second 45
Displacing Harry Kane as England’s first-choice striker may well be in an insurmountable challenge.
Credit to Abraham, nonetheless. He’s giving Gareth Southgate something to ponder.
Pulisic saw his shot from 18 yards tipped over acrobatically by Guaita six minutes later as the Blues threatened to pull away.
Yet Lampard’s anxieties persisted; Chelsea’ inability to put this game to bed etched across their manager’s face.
His heart was in his mouth in the 69th minute when James Tomkins, unmarked, headed wide from close range.
Twelve minutes from time, though, Chelsea’s jitters finally eased as Pulisic nodded home his fourth goal in five games after substitute Michy Batshuayi saw his goal bound shot deflect off Cahill.
Chelsea, at least for a short period, were up to second. Bigger tests are to come; Manchester City are next up.
But under Lampard, Chelsea are going places.
Stamford Bridge remembered the fallen of World War I with a special banner before a minutes silence was observed
Season at a glance
- Premier League
- Premier League
- League One
- League Two
- Scottish Premiership
- Scottish Div 1
- Scottish Div 2
- Scottish Div 3
- Ligue 1
- Serie A
- La Liga
CHELSEA (4-2-3-1): Kepa 6; James 7, Zouma 7, Tomori 7, Emerson 6.5; Kante 7, Kovacic 7; Willian 7.5, Mount 7 (Gilmour 87), Pulisic 7.5 (Hudson-Odoi 80); Abraham 7 (Batshuayi 73)
Subs: Caballero, Christensen, Giroud, Hudson-Odoi, Azpilicueta, Gilmour.
Booked: Willian, Emerson, Kovacic
Lampard – 7
PALACE (4-5-1): Guaita 6, Ward 6 (Kelly 44, 6), Tomkins 6.5, Cahill 7, Van Aanholt 6; Townsend 6, Kouyate 6.5 (McCarthy 82), Millivojevic 6, McArthur (Schlupp 70, 6), Zaha 6; Ayew 6
Subs: Hennessey, Dann, Schlupp, Benteke, McCarthy, Kelly, Riedewald
Hodgson – 5.5
Referee – Mike Dean – 6
MOM – Willian
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