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Chelsea 3-1 Crystal Palace - Instant Victory. Just Add Hazard.

Us : Barkley starts, both Kovacic and Ruben on the bench. Hazard fit enough to be used as a sub. We were condemning abusive Gary Cahill b...


Us: Barkley starts, both Kovacic and Ruben on the bench. Hazard fit enough to be used as a sub. We were condemning abusive Gary Cahill bashers on the radio on Friday. Christensen not even on the bench today, and clearly behind our Captain in the pecking order right now. Food for thought for the Twitterati. The Dane has got work to do so far as impressing Sarri is concerned. One could argue that if Zappacosta can get on the bench and you can’t, you really are in the doghouse.

Them: Zaha answered questions as to his fitness by starting. When questioned, however, he could not tell anyone what the f*ck that was on top of his head.

A fast start, almost resulted in a fine chance thanks to Willian on 1 minute but Palace looked equally as spritely. The whole of the first ten minutes was very open. A few issues with the accuracy of our passing and with Michael Oliver giving them free kicks for nothing. Is this the library? Sang the away fans. No, because if it was, you wouldn’t be here, because you’re from Croydon.

19 minutes and all of their forward effort resulted in a decent chance but the shot was hit way over the bar. Neither side had actually had registered anything on target yet. For our part, it was proving very difficult to get it in the box. 24 minutes and Morata almost got his head on a cross from the left but he was well marked. 

It looked, though, like we were finally getting a grip on the game with some sustained attacking. 28 there was a standing ovation for Morata after he got stuck right in to win a corner. Crowd fired up now, players fired up, Palace on the back foot and on the half hour up pops Morata with complete composure to stop it, turn, and slot it past Hennessy in the Palace goal. Thank f*ck for that.

It was a different game now. Willian had another chalked off as offside on 34, Palace were at sixes and sevens. Barkley almost put a shot on the roof on 36, Morata headed one over the bar two minutes later. Still we pressed forward, but it was not to be before the break. We had worked our way into the game slowly. Palace hadn’t had a shot on target and had only had thirty percent possession but that makes them sound worse than they actually were. I feel sorry for them that just as they appear to have got their sh*t together a bit they have a harsh run of fixtures.

Opening couple of minutes of the second half we kept giving the ball away, but it was in the act of trying to press quickly in the direction of goal, which I suppose it better than the tail end of Conte’s tenure when it was at the speed of Wayne Rooney and they all looked like they’d rather be in the pub. Second goal required as soon as possible tho please. Palace were operating mainly in their own half, which means of course they then went and scored. Just as we found out that Willian’s goal had actually been onside. B*llocks. Huge and sudden surge of Championship songs from the visitors. Even more b*llocks. Andros Townsend. I’d forgotten he even existed.

Still, more than half an hour to play, if we can only do something with the sloppy passing. Urgh. Dear Eden, Please come on and save the day, love Alex. Sarri was jumping and down like a rabid, nicotine stained kangaroo on the touchline, players screaming at each other. Get it together Chels. Half chance from range by Willian on 59, but it went straight at the keeper. Then it was straight back down the other end and more panic attacks as we failed to close them down in and around the box. Save by Hennessy on 62 from yet another Morata effort. Is that Hazard stripping off? Asked Boycie. He was bent over at the time and I’d know that backside anywhere. It was indeed. On he came for Willian to a rapturous reception. Barkley had not sparkled today as he has of late, and at the same time he made way for Kovacic.

It took them less than a minute to foul Eden. And less than a minute after that he sent in a winning ball from the free kick which allowed Morata to thump his second home from a narrow angle. Many, many voices singing “He scores when he wants.” Different side. Instantly. All Chelsea now. No more Championship songs. On 69 minutes our third came out of nowhere when the ball was slid into the box and found an unmarked Pedro Pony who battered it. “You’ve had your day out, now f*ck off home.” Tedious and unimaginative Maurizio song.

Palace’s turn to shuffle their pack. Didn’t make a lot of difference, though they were still trying. We had settled having gone two clear, easing off on the intensity somewhat. Fabregas came on with ten minutes to go. A bit of a rest for Jorginho. We’ll just have one of those perfect balls forward to Eden to hammer this home please Cesc. 

Refwatch: Oliver. Tolerable. I suppose. Which is more than can be said for most of them. We could have had a fourth on 83 but the ball went straight across the face of goal. Morata had wandered into an offside position so that was the end of that. He got caught a few times today, but I would rather he was chomping at the bit to shoot and on a hatrick than looking like wanted to dig a hole on the halfway line and climb in it. All the fight had gone out of Palace now, unless your name was Kovacic. They seemed to have a lot of energy left for kicking him. We almost gave away a stupid goal in injury time, but got away with it. Morata could have had a hatrick at the last. We broke, Eden handed it to him on a plate, and then instead of keeping it simple and going around Hennessy, who came tearing out, he made a mess of it when he tried to dink it over him. Sigh.

So: Very up and down today at times. We’d got along well enough without Eden the last couple of games, but it’s just so much sexier when he’s on the pitch. Second it is. Three teams unbeaten at the top after 11 games for the first time since 1978/79. Narrow, narrow margins this season.

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AC - A Girl Who Likes Balls. 

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