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Crystal Palace 0-1 Chelsea, Premier League: Statistical Review and Analysis

The numbers behind the game

Crystal Palace v Chelsea - Premier League Photo by Ryan Pierse/Getty Images


Chelsea’s first league game in almost a month — and the first game with advanced stats from FBref in that timespan — was a continuation of the trends observed since Chilwell’s injury, with the team struggling to break down a resolute Crystal Palace defence until Hakim Ziyech’s moment of magic bailed us out. However, what matters most is the result and the three crucial points in an increasingly complicated top-4 race.

While Tuchel came up with multiple reasons to explain the team’s poor performance — temperature, jet-lag and others — the fact remains that the team have been playing poorly for a long while now. Despite the team’s relatively “lighter” recent schedule, performances are still at a concerning level at both individual and collective levels. With a bunch of massive games coming up, things need to improve quickly.

Match statistics

The close proximity of Lukaku and Kanté in this chart makes it appear as if Lukaku had connections with our other players. This is not the case and if his dot was slightly further up, it would be easier to see how he was completely isolated. There are several reasons for this — the player himself, the system and our other players — and it is not an easy situation for any of them.

Stats are from fbref and understat.

Individual ratings

Thomas Tuchel

Tuchel is going through a rare rough patch, where his decisions are not having the desired impact. And that makes it slightly difficult to see the benefit of playing Havertz as a wide attacker on the left and Pulisic down the middle in a role closer to midfield than attack. The two never got into the game and as a result, our offensive sequences had no rhythm or flow.

While the reasons given by Tuchel are all valid in isolation, the team have been playing poorly for quite some time now. Even after a much-needed break, performances against inferior opposition in the FA Cup and Club World Cup were not particularly encouraging. Injuries to Chilwell and Reece James have not helped but it should not be used as a cop-out — we had similar performances (such as the games against Brentford and Newcastle) even with our two wing-backs starting. They bailed us out with some sharp finishes but they did not make us more fluid. This issue is systemic in nature but with one of the world’s best coaches in charge, we should be confident that it will be solved soon.


Édouard Mendy — GK

Could have done better on a couple of chances — from Olise and Zaha — but luckily for him and the team, Palace’s forwards did not get their efforts on target.


Crystal Palace v Chelsea - Premier League Photo by Sebastian Frej/MB Media/Getty Images

Andreas Christensen — RB

Passed the ball confidently and was great in build-up. While he did not venture forward much, he did execute one good cross. He could have done better defensively at times, especially for the chance Zaha had.

Stats of note
4 interceptions — 1st
8 passes into final third — 2nd
8 progressive passes — 2nd
3 carries into final third — 2nd


Thiago Silva — RCB

Looked superb defensively, handling Palace’s set of tricky attackers with typical ease. Was in good touch on the ball, too.

Stats of note
2 clearances — T-2nd
2 aerial duels won (3 contested) — T-2nd
6 passes into final third — 3rd
9 loose-ball recoveries — 3rd


Antonio Rüdiger — LCB

Was majestic on the ball, pulling off some beautiful passes and carries. As I have repeatedly stated in this column, he really does not get the respect he deserves for his ability on the ball.

Note: The difference between his progressive pass count in the chart and from FBref is because of the definitions used. FBref ignore passes in the first 40% of the build-up phase — something that is inherently unfair to defensive players.

Stats of note
12 passes into final third — 1st
3 passes into box — 1st
11 progressive passes — 1st
11 progressive carries — 1st
13 loose-ball recoveries — 2nd
2 clearances — T-2nd
2 aerial duels won (2 contested) — T-2nd
2 carries into final third — T-3rd


Malang Sarr — LB

Could have moved the ball quicker at times but that should not take away from what was a decent performance. His passing ideas were good at times but he could not execute them. He did create one good chance for Kanté.

Stats of note
4 clearances — 1st
2 key passes — 1st
5 carries into final third — 1st
3 shot-creating actions — T-1st
3 aerial duels won (3 contested) — T-1st
9 progressive carries — 2nd


Crystal Palace v Chelsea - Premier League Photo by Sebastian Frej/MB Media/Getty Images

N’Golo Kanté — RCM

Had a poor performance by his standards, not doing enough to influence the game in any phase. His passing was passive, he did not carry the ball with his usual verve and he was caught ahead of the ball too often defensively.

Stats of note
3 shot-creating actions — T-1st
2 carries into final third — T-3rd


Jorginho — LCM

Struggled to get on the ball much or progress it, with the bulk of our ball-progression done by our defenders. He was active defensively but got caught out in a few one-on-one dribbling scenarios. Bad days happen to everyone and this was undoubtedly one for both our starting midfielders.

Stats of note
5 tackles — 1st
3 interceptions — 2nd
19 pressures — T-3rd


Christian Pulisic — CM/C-AM

Was asked to play in a slightly deeper central role and struggled mightily. He got on the end of a good chance early in the game but could not impose himself after that, losing the ball too easily and not offering enough from a creative perspective. However, it is not all his fault, for he was asked to play in a position he has never played in before for Chelsea.

Stats of note
12 progressive passes received — 1st
3 aerial duels won (4 contested) — T-1st
2 shots — 2nd
20 pressures — 2nd
3 successful dribbles (4 attempted) — 2nd
2 clearances — T-2nd
3 touches in penalty box — 3rd
8 progressive carries — 3rd
2 carries into final third — T-3rd


Crystal Palace v Chelsea - Premier League Photo by Alex Broadway/Getty Images

Kai Havertz — LW/L-AM

Playing on the left severely limited his angles and rendered him moot in terms of on-ball creation. He took too long to release the ball and could not associate well with his teammates except for a couple of nice passes to Pulisic.

Stats of note
7 touches in penalty box — 1st
3 shot-creating actions — T-1st
11 progressive passes received — 2nd
3 tackles — 3rd
19 pressures — T-3rd
2 carries into final third — T-3rd


Romelu Lukaku – CF

Had a totally anonymous display, with his 7 touches the fewest by any Premier League outfielder to have played 90 minutes in Opta’s database. As mentioned above, the blame for this must be borne by everyone.

Lukaku should have been more active in his movement but at the same time, this is the first time in his career that he is averaging fewer than 30 touches per 90. If he is struggling, our tactics and creative players undoubtedly play a part. While he needs to give us more, at the same time, we should not blame him for things beyond his control.

Stats of note


Hakim Ziyech – RW/R-AM

Created a great chance for Pulisic early in the game and was our best offensive player over the 90 minutes. He took players on with confidence hitherto unseen in his time at Chelsea and could have gotten an assist for a great cross in the second half. After seeing a goal chalked off for a marginal offside from Lukaku, he won the game in the dying stages with a very difficult finish. It is great to see him bounce back after a very difficult 18 months.

Stats of note
1 goal
4 shots — 1st
21 pressures — 1st
4 successful dribbles (8 attempted) — 1st
14 loose-ball recoveries — 1st
4 tackles — 2nd
5 touches in penalty box — 2nd
6 progressive passes — 3rd
8 progressive passes received — 3rd



Marcos Alonso (74th minute) – Provided a nice assist for the winning goal.

Mateo Kovačić (74th minute) — Brought a degree of calm to our play and provided a good base for us to flood players forward.

Ruben Loftus-Cheek (74th minute) – Lost the ball in dangerous positions with some bad passes in a disappointing display overall.

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