This weekend was a great chance for Chelsea to greatly increase their chances of winning the Premier League title. Instead, a lacklustre performance against one of the league's worst sides has probably made this Manchester City's title to lose. Depending on the results of the rest of this weekend's games, it may be time to focus on the Champions League, and be happy with the progress made this year.
The first half was about what we all expected, and Chelsea didn't look like they were sharp enough to do anything about it. We saw Fernando Torres and Andre Schurrle both have decent chances to open the scoring, as well as a shout for a softish penalty, but the defending was just good enough from Palace to assure that blues' fans were far less giddy at the break than they were a week ago.
The second half saw Oscar come on for an injured David Luiz, and Chelsea looked the better team for the opening exchanges of the second 45. John Terry made the Chelsea task much more difficult though, trying to clear a Palace cross which Petr Cech was coming to claim, but finding the back of the Chelsea net instead.
Mourinho responded by taking off Frank Lampard, and replacing him with Mohamed Salah. Chelsea improved, but still couldn't score. With 20 minutes to go, the manager made his final change, introducing Demba Ba for Andre Schurrle. A combination of great goalkeeping and abysmal finishing saw Chelsea drop three more points though, effectively ending their title chase.
- I hate Fernando Torres against these sort of teams. Far too often the game starts without the forward seeing much of the ball, and he just starts dropping deeper and deeper to get himself involved. If we're going to end up with a false nine, we might as well put someone on who is a little more likely to carve the defense open with their passing.
- I was really excited to see both Nemanja Matic and David Luiz in the midfield again today. The Brazilian has been excellent every time he's been paired with the giant Serb, and I could see that pair becoming one of the best midfields in Europe. Unfortunately, Luiz was injured by a very dangerous tackle early in the first half, and didn't look particularly crisp before being taken off at the half.
- You have to wonder if Arsene Wenger or Tim Sherwood ever watch Chelsea play these sort of teams. This team clearly struggles with any sort of deep, organized defense, and is absolutely lethal against teams that stray too far up the pitch.
- These are exactly the sort of games where the relative youth of our best attacking players shows. Too many players simply dropped deeper looking for the ball today, instead of trying to make runs which would pull defenders out of position.
- That should just about do it for Chelsea's chances of winning the title this season, unless we get an awful lot of help. Regardless of whether that help comes or not, the Blues now can't afford to drop any more points this season if they have any intentions of finishing top.