That’s three points in the bag and I do not care how they were earned. Yes, we almost made a hash of it in the end, but it was a result our play deserved. The 2-1 win against Crystal Palace puts Chelsea just 4 points behind the team in fourth, with eight more games to play. And considering how the Harry Kane Team just lost Harry Kane to an unfortunate – but not entirely unexpected – injury in a World Cup year, this could be the break (pun not intended) we desperately needed.
Here are a few talking points from a confidence boosting victory before the big game in Barcelona.
#1 Balance Restored
Oh, N’Golo Kante. How we missed you! The return of the French midfield dynamo was a welcome sight, after a health scare he suffered before the City game. Kante’s presence restored a familiar feel to the Chelsea lineup. Gary Cahill also received a rare start, with Olivier Giroud leading the attack. Willian and Hazard played on each side of the proper center forward, with both players turning in impressive performances in their preferred positions. It was Willian who scored the first before Zappacosta’s cross was turned into his own net by a Palace defender. Former Blue, Patrick van Aanholt, scored a late consolation and ruined Courtois’ clean sheet.
#2 Scrappy Seems To Be The Hardest Word
They all count, so there should be no reason to turn our noses up when they go in off an opponent’s shin. Or in this case, end up in the net after pinballing between the ‘keeper and the defender. Despite creating numerous chances, the two goals we scored weren’t exactly beautiful. But one could argue, on the basis of our play they had been coming. This was the sort of performance we’d not seen since a long time. A few more of these until the end of the season and we might make it back into the Champions League.
#3 Rest For The Weary?
Andreas Christensen has been under increasing pressure over the past few weeks, as his mistakes have come under intense scrutiny. Presumably, his ‘Errors Leading Up To Goals’ stats must make for depressing reading now, but let’s not forget he is still only 21 years old. Mistakes are expected when you’re that young. Christensen’s mistakes are no worse than say, Luiz in his PlayStation days. Against Palace, his error led to a shot hitting the post. Perhaps it might be time to give the Dane a couple of days off and let Cahill have another go. A little time away from the spotlight could do wonders for his confidence.
#4 The New Mr. Consistent
Willian is making a really strong case for this season to be one of his best ever at Chelsea. The one thing that always seemed to bother most people was the lack of consistency in his performances. He had a tendency to blow hot and cold which, given his talent, was a source of immense frustration. But lately he has been putting in some really solid showings and he scored yet again against Palace. Still, the question remains: will this Willian show up at the Nou Camp?
#5 Will The Real Number 9 Please Stand Up?
Olivier Giroud is yet to score for Chelsea in the Premier League and he got closest against Palace when he hit the post. Still, having him lead the line is so much better than having Hazard toil as a false nine with no end product. Even more so when Morata is in this kind of form. Chelsea’s record signing played for the final 18 minutes or so, earning himself another yellow card, which could have easily been a red. The frustration is clearly visible on Morata’s face as his first season in English football continues to resemble a disaster. Hopefully, the next one will be better.
Chelsea are off to sunny Spain to play Barcelona in the Champions League round of 16 second leg. A positive result in that game could be the turning point of this season. Or, more likely, it’ll allow us to concentrate on finishing in the top four.