This morning Chelsea got a boost in their quest to top the table before Christmas, as Manchester City took Arsenal behind the woodshed in the early game. The Blues still needed to take three points in order to capitalize, and did so in relatively straightforward fashion.
Fernando Torres opened the scoring after a Willian shot struck the post, a rare 'striker's goal' from a Chelsea striker in recent times. Palace managed to bounce right back though, combining a rare quality attacking move with some poor defending from John Terry to level the game at 1-1.
Ramires made sure it went to the half with Chelsea in the lead, placing a perfect shot into the upper corner of the net. Chelsea had several other excellent chances to add to the lead, but as usual, their finishing wasn't as good as we'd like.
The second half began in much the same style as the first was played, with Chelsea looking the better side while still looking shaky defending crosses. As the half wore on, Palace began to press harder and harder for an equalizer, but Chelsea managed to hold on to take the three points. Here are a few thoughts as Chelsea move within reach of the top:
- I certainly won't mind seeing those Crystal Palace away kits relegated at the end of the season. I've yet to see an offering with a sash that I didn't hate.
- The Fernando Torres opener was a welcome sight, more from the movement that resulted in the goal than anything. As soon as the ball left the foot of Willian, we had Juan Mata attacking one post and Fernando Torres attacking the other. Our centerbacks do this every time they're in the box, but it's far too rare from our attackers.
- Fernando's dive for cover on the Ramires goal reminded me of Florent Malouda attempting to avoid decapitation by an Alex free kick against Arsenal. I loved that goal.
- Every time I heard the commentator mention the Palace keeper's name, I expected to see Will Farrell getting mauled by a bear. EVERYBODY PANIC!
- Tony Gale is the worst.
- How about the defensive work from Eden Hazard today? He forced Palace to hurry a number of passes and intercepted a few himself, and really had a nice game overall.
- Mark Clattenburg allowed the game to become very, very physical, which certainly made it harder to counter when Palace finally started pushing at the end.
- I'd suggest we start taking a drink every time Chelsea failed to score in laughable fashion, but I don't make as much as Shinji Kagawa, and can't afford to get my stomach pumped every week.