Chelsea maintain their five-point lead at the top of the table thanks to excellent goals from Oscar and Cesc Fabregas.
The Blues, without their prolific striker Diego Costa, needed to call upon their midfield maestros and they certainly delivered in a tempestuous affair which saw a player from each side red carded before the first half was even out.
It was just one incident in a very passionate affair. Chelsea, determined not to succumb to the same fate as this fixture last season, started powerfully but so did the hosts and Courtois had to be called upon on multiple occasions, bailing Gary Cahill out who had a shocking opening quarter of an hour.
The sucker-punch for Crystal Palace came with a free-kick. Oscar performed a near-carbon copy of the winner against Stoke in the FA Cup last season, wrapping his foot deliciously around the ball and wrong-footing Speroni.
It looked like the Blues blew the match open when Cesar Azpilicueta foolishly went into a challenge two-footed right in front of referee Pawson but the numerical disadvantage was eliminate minutes later when Delaney decided to unnecessarily challenge for a ball himself. Two yellow cards was his offence but the punishment was the same and the second half would be served by 10 versus 10.
And, man-for-man, Chelsea were too powerful. A great team goal followed as Cesc Fabregas doubled Chelsea’s advantage, and then came large periods of containment for Chelsea, as no doubt instructed by Jose Mourinho.
That resistance lasted until the 90th minute before Fraizer Campbell denied Chelsea a fourth consecutive clean sheet but there was no stopping the three points heading across the capital to SW6.
Man of the Match
CESC FABREGAS: Really enjoying his role as Chelsea’s midfield maestro and it is evident in his performance. It must be a dream to know Matic will always be covering the more defensive aspects to the midfield role so that Fabregas can concentrate on what he is good at, which is reading and dictating the game. Popped up with the crucial winning goal is a big plus too. 8/10
Mourinho was euphoric: “My team had a fantastic performance. From minute one we did what we wanted to do, have the ball, use the ball and control the game. The second goal was unbelievably good! Against Palace it is never finished until the last seconds. They scored and the situation becomes dangerous for us.”
Neil Warnock was critical of the referee: “We played really well and it’s overshadowed by a poor performance by the referee. I thought he was influenced today… you have four Chelsea players surrounding the referee [pressurising him for Delaney’s red card]. I don’t think the referee has a defence today. I don’t really want to talk about him.”