Chelsea vs Crystal Palace
Chelsea and Crystal Palace went head-to-head in Saturday’s early Premier League kick-off.
Frank Lampard’s side have had a solid start to the campaign, and began the day firmly in the top-four.
With 5th placed Arsenal taking on Leicester later on Saturday, Chelsea were aware that they could open up a nine-point gap between themselves and the Gunners, should they see off Palace, and Leicester beat Arsenal.
But scoring a victory over the Eagles is no easy feat.
Roy Hodgson’s side started the day 9th in the Premier League, just two points adrift of 5th place.
How the sides lined up
Here’s the Chelsea team to play Crystal Palace!
— Chelsea FC (@ChelseaFC) November 9, 2019
— Crystal Palace F.C. (@CPFC) November 9, 2019
Here are three key talking points from the clash
Reece James’ first Premier League start
Reece James put on an emphatic display for Chelsea in midweek vs Ajax.
The young full-back was a real game-changer for Chelsea, coming off the bench as the Blues fought back from 4-1 down to secure a 4-4 draw with the Dutch champions.
After running riot over Ajax, James was handed his first-ever Premier League start on Saturday vs Crystal Palace.
James had a solid first 45 both defensively and offensively.
Going forward, James put a few decent balls into the box, including one just before the interval that probably should have resulted in a Chelsea goal.
And in terms of defending, James managed to keep Wilfried Zaha pretty quiet during the first-half.
James: 1 tackle, 1 clearance, 1 interception, 40 touches, 87% passing accuracy
Zaha: 0 shots, 0 crosses, 21 touches, 91% passing accuracy, 1 yellow card
— Goal (@goal) November 9, 2019
James’ second-half display was also a competent one, with the 19-year-old making a big case to become Chelsea’s future first-team right-back.
Zaha remains goalless
Wilfried Zaha’s 2019/20 campaign has gotten off to a rather lackluster start.
The Ivorian was linked with a move away from Selhurst Park over the summer, but no move materialised, with Zaha said to have been left devastated at not being able to link up with Everton on deadline day.
Whether or not his failed move has impacted his performances can’t really be known for sure.
But the Palace talisman has been far from impressive for much of this season.
Zaha netted 10 and provided 10 assists in 34 league outings last term.
However, prior to kick-off at Stamford Bridge, Zaha had yet to score in the league for the Eagles this season.
Zaha also failed to end his goal-scoring rut on Saturday afternoon.
The Ivorian barely had a sniff of the ball in the opening 20 minutes, with his first notable involvement being a foul on Mateo Kovacic.
Zaha received a yellow card shortly after, due to him bringing down Willian on the edge of the Palace penalty area.
Zaha’s overall performance in the first-half was one of disappointment, as was his display in the second 45.
Pulisic bursting with confidence
Christian Pulisic’s career in England did not get off to the best start.
The former Borussia Dortmund man assisted just one in his opening four Premier League games.
The American was then benched in Chelsea’s ensuing three league ties.
However, after a slight adjustment period, Pulisic looks to be firing on all cylinders for the Blues.
In his last three games across all competitions prior to Palace, Pulisic scored four and assisted one.
The pacey winger put on another exemplary display on Saturday vs the Eagles.
Pulisic exuded confidence vs Roy Hodgson’s men, running at defenders with his quick feet and electrifying pace.
Pulisic’s afternoon was eventually capped off in the 79th minute, as he put Chelsea 2-0 up.
Pulisic gets his goal!
in for the American in Chelsea blue. pic.twitter.com/3cgcsDVA9d
— Football on BT Sport (@btsportfootball) November 9, 2019
After a rampant display vs Palace, Pulisic was replaced by Callum Hudson-Odoi.
When Eden Hazard departed Chelsea over the summer, fans may have been concerned about replacing the Belgian, especially given the fact that they were unable to sign players.
But Pulisic’s recent form is a strong indicator that Chelsea should be able to cope just fine without their ex-star.