It had to be us, didn’t it? You could see it coming a mile away. After a record-breaking start to the season where they scored zero goals and earned zero points, Crystal Palace finally got their act together in a 2-1 home win over a disjointed Chelsea side. Let’s be honest; it was a horrendously poor performance from Chelsea that allowed Palace to take the game to the Blues and give Roy Hodgson his first win as the Eagles’ manager.
Here are the talking points from a ludicrous display of football:
#1 Team Talk
On paper, Chelsea fielded a pretty strong lineup that would have been enough to win against several sides in the Premier League. Strictly on paper, though. This was a lineup without its midfield dynamo and the spearhead in attack. But the replacements were, by no means, Sunday League amateurs, although their performance certainly seemed to suggest that. Surprisingly, Musonda made the bench and also came on in the second half despite venting on social media, which seems to suggest a mending of ties. It also meant a first away start in the league for one Michy Batshuayi. But more on him later.
#2 Shock To The System
Crystal Palace’s woes have been discussed and dissected dozens of times by pundits, players and the local pub bore. This is a team that could not buy a goal until it met the friendly, welcoming Chelsea defence, and like London buses, two came in at once. The first goal was an homage to Liverpool’s defending of the past couple of seasons, and each character played the part to perfection. There was the unchecked cross from the left, one unmarked opposition player in the box and a couple of defenders half-heartedly trying to prevent a goal. That the goal went in off Azpilicueta was just the start of a miserable night for the Spaniard. It hurts to even type this, but it was possibly the worst showing of Dave’s Chelsea career.
#3 Total Letdown
It’s hard to find a single blameless player for one of the worst performances of Conte’s reign, although Courtois comes closest to being one. Fabregas gets some credit for trying to get things done, be it hitting the bar with a shot or making the ‘keeper work with a wicked free kick. Bakayoko scored the equaliser for the first goal, but his passing and ball retention was pedestrian. Willian did his usual ‘run, stop, pass it back’ routine, Hazard was off his game and the entire defence could be summed up in one word – shambolic. Of the substitutes, Zappacosta and Musonda seemed to be up for it while Pedro might as well have stayed on the bench.
#4 Break The Bat Signal
Oh, Michy. Michy, Michy, Michy. The Belgian has a decent scoring record, considering how little game time he usually gets. In the absence of Morata, this was Michy’s chance to prove his usefulness against a team ripe for the taking. Michy went on to be as useful as a paper towel in a bath tub, spending most of his time standing in the wrong parts of the pitch or simply being offside. His reaction when the board went up with his number laid bare the frustrations of a player who just can’t catch a break, although a lot of it seems to be down to him not taking his chances when he does get them. Perhaps EA Sports lowering his rating might provide the much-needed kick up the arse.
#5 Injury Woes
Chelsea lost Victor Moses to injury in the second half, which just compounded their woes. The Nigerian wingback was replaced by new signing Davide Zappacosta, who did a decent job of filling up for his fallen comrade, sending in a couple of crosses and taking a shot himself. Although the full extent of Moses’ injury is not yet known, it is yet another blow to Chelsea’s hopes of recovering from a sub-standard start to the season.
Chelsea now host AS Roma in the Champions League on Wednesday, with Morata scheduled to return from his own injury hell. A good result against the Italians should provide a shot in the arm for a squad seemingly dealing with confidence issues from two consecutive losses. Until then, onward and upwards!