It was a bright start from Palace, with former Chelsea trainee Michael Olise coming close with a shot from inside the box, right side, but Chelsea settled in quickly after that and started dominating proceedings.
We created multiple excellent chances, the four attackers plus Sarr from left back buzzing around as Lukaku kept the defenders occupied (despite touching the ball just twice in the first-half). But Pulisic, Kanté, and Ziyech all wasted great opportunities, while Rüdiger drew an excellent save from the goalkeeper with a 40-yard piledriver.
Palace fired a literal warning shot about all of our missed opportunities just before the half with a Zaha chance from a very tight angle that probably would’ve been called back for offside (we never saw a replay) or a clear foul on Pulisic in the build-up.
And the home side made the much better start to the second half, putting Chelsea entirely on the back foot for the first 10-15 minutes of the half. And the sloppy play continued even as the balance of play evened out, and Chelsea were not able to put together any truly threatening moves.
A triple substitution with 15 minutes to go almost resulted in immediate impact, but Ziyech’s goal was ruled out on review as Lukaku was a step offside on the initial through ball from Kovačić.
But just when it looked like we’d have to settle for a frustrating draw, Ziyech pulled one out of the bag again, finishing an Alonso cross first-time, low, from a tight angle.
Never in doubt, right?
- Four changes from the Club World Cup final, with Sarr, Pulisic, Ziyech, and Jorginho getting the nod, but also a formation switch to a 4-1-4-1, with Kanté box-to-box.
- More of a wing-back look after the triple sub for the last 15-20 minutes
- Third straight Premier League game with a goal for Ziyech
- Chelsea now 7 points clear of fourth-place Manchester United. Arsenal also won today, which does keep them in the picture (8 points behind with two games in-hand)
- Next up: Lille in the first leg of the Champions League Round of 16 on Tuesday