Away Block Report: Chelsea 2 – 1 Crystal Palace


By - Sunday 15th December, 2013

Palace push unconvincing Chelsea


Image by Isriya Paireepairit. Used under Creative Commons. (http://www.flickr.com/photos/isriya/1492427818/)

Jose Mourinho arrived into this encounter having remained unbeaten in the Premier League at Stamford Bridge during his two spells as Chelsea manager. Whilst Crystal Palace never threatened to take all three points from their near neighbours, they put in a performance which will stand them in good stead for future matches, and send a further warning sign to their relegation rivals.

Palace started without ever present left back Dean Moxey, who limped off with a hamstring strain in last week’s victory over Cardiff City. Joel Ward made the switch to left back as he had during the Cardiff game, with Adrian Mariappa coming into the starting lineup at right back. Jose Campana returned to the Palace squad for the first time since the defeat to Fulham. Chelsea meanwhile started with a formidable attack; £50 million striker Fernando Torres lining up alongside Juan Mata and Eden Hazard.

Yet the away side seemed unfazed during the opening phase of the game. Indeed, Cameron Jerome nutmegging Brazilian international David Luiz was an early demonstration that the Eagles were not there simply to make up the numbers. Palace looked as organised and determined as they had in their recent run of good form.

But it was Chelsea who took control, and with it, the opening goal. Chelsea midfielder Willian took advantage of mis-marking to gain the ball and pump it towards Julian Speroni’s goal. The Argentine made a good save to his right, the ball deflecting on to the post, but Torres stole ahead of Ward to slot in the rebound. With only sixteen minutes played, the early goal and emerging dominance by the Blues was ominous.

Where Palace may have crumbled just a few weeks ago however, they continued to press the Chelsea attack and push up the field whenever possible. Chelsea had their chances; Branislav Ivanovic’s drive from a tight angle narrowly missing the goal.

A deserved equaliser for Palace, who knew they had to take all their chances if they were to claim any points

Roared on by an unrelenting away support, in stark contrast to the seemingly disinterested Chelsea fans, the Eagles were not down for long. Joel Ward, who can rightfully claim to be Palace’s most consistent player in the first half of the season, collected the ball out on his unfamiliar left back position. Drilling in a low cross, the ball found in-form Marouane Chamakh, who demonstrated once again the confidence shown since Tony Pulis’s arrival by hitting a first time volley into the back of the net. A deserved equaliser for Palace, who knew they had to take all their chances if they were to claim any points.

However, the quality of Chelsea, and in particular their midfield, began to dominate possession of the ball. Whilst Palace exerted good pressure on the Chelsea attack, the Blues restored their lead just six minutes after Chamakh’s leveller. Hazard set up Ramires on the edge of the Palace box, and with the away side’s defence once again a fraction slow to react, the Brazilian midfielder slammed in what would prove to be the winning goal; Speroni was unmoved. The two teams reached the break with arguably the correct scoreline.

Palace continued to apply pressure after the break, and had a number of chances to grab a point. Damien Delaney had numerous chances from set pieces, making a mockery of Chelsea’s set piece defending, but failed to find the back of the net; chances alternatively finding Petr Cech or the home fans.

 Had Palace been up against weaker opposition, points would surely have been taken

The Eagles’ closest chance came when Stuart O’Keefe, who put in another reliable performance after replacing the injured Kagisho Dikgacoi in the first half, initiated a goalmouth scramble. The midfielder burst forward to shoot past Cech – only for him to be foiled by John Terry, who positioned himself well to make a goalline clearance. O’Keefe nearly managed to squeeze the rebound in but alas, it was not to be. Jason Puncheon forced a good save from Cech after twisting and turning the Chelsea defence.

Chelsea for their part found Speroni formidable opposition in the Palace goal. The ‘keeper made a sensational double save from Andre Schurrle and then Demba Ba. Willian and Ramires could also have done better with their chances.

Mourinho applauded the excellent Palace fans after the final whistle, and the away support thankfully had much to cheer for their revolting £55 entry fee. Had Palace been up against weaker opposition, points would surely have been taken, and Everton’s demolition of Fulham at least gave the Eagles deserved compensation by moving them up to 18th in the Premier League table on goal difference. Encouraging stuff for Palace, and the hope will be that confidence is taken into the concentrated Christmas fixtures.

Chelsea: Cech; Ivanovic, Luiz, Terry, Azpilicueta; Essien, Willian (Schurrle 82′), Ramires; Mata (Oscar 62′), Hazard, Torres (Ba 84′).

Crystal Palace: Speroni; Mariappa, Gabbidon, Delaney, Ward; Puncheon, Jedinak, Dikgacoi (O’Keefe, 26′), Bannan (Bolasie, 51′); Chamakh (Gayle, 88′), Jerome.

Goals: Chelsea 2 (Torres 16′, Ramires 35′) Crystal Palace 1 (Chamakh 29′)

Booked: Chelsea (Ivanovic, Essien) Crystal Palace (Chamakh)

Attendance: 41,608

Referee: M. Clattenburg.

The Palace Away Fan

The Palace Away Fan

Following Palace over land and sea, The Away Fan is 100% committed to the cause. Often seen catching a train on a rainy Saturday, the Away Fan rarely returns home without a thousand stories to tell. Visiting exotic locations such as Stoke, Hull and Sunderland, this intrepid traveller is the authority on Crystal Palace performances away from SE25.

More Posts