Chelsea got their 2021-22 Premier League season off to a roaring start with a 3-0 victory over Crystal Palace at Stamford Bridge on Saturday.
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The reigning European champions were 2-0 up by halftime thanks to goals scored by Marcos Alonso and Christian Pulisic, and debutant Trevoh Chalobah added a third just before the hour mark. Without dazzling, Chelsea were utterly dominant against a hugely overmatched Crystal Palace side.
3 things we learned from Chelsea – Crystal Palace
1. Chelsea in complete control throughout: Chelsea were in firm control of the game’s proceedings throughout, with nearly 70 percent of possession and all nine shots attempted in the first half (60 percent and 4-4 in the second half). The Blues spent plenty of time in and around the Eagles’ penalty area, but sights of goal were fairly limited relative to the lopsidedness of the run of play. Patience proved a virtue, and eventually paid off for the European champions. It was an expected result in the mind of every Chelsea player, and their collective body language said as much.
2. Depth on display, even without a full squad: Hakim Ziyech (shoulder) and Romelu Lukaku (signed on Thursday) were each unavailable against Crystal Palace, and Kai Havertz started the game on the bench after playing 120 minutes in the UEFA Super Cup on Wednesday. And still, three goals scored and a thoroughly dominant display to kick off the season. Once Lukaku finds his footing and gets up to speed with the rest of the group, Chelsea will be a problem to deal with this year.
3. Nothingness from Crystal Palace: For anyone who had fears of what could happen to Crystal Palace this season, those fears were validated by a frustrating no-show performance in Patrick Vieira’s debut as manager. Lifeless. Unimaginative. Labored. Fruitless.
Man of the Match: Marcos Alonso – Not only for the sensational free kick he scored, but the importance of each of the wing back spots in Thomas Tuchel’s 3-4-3 system places an extra importance on someone like Alonso. He met, and exceeded, that challenge in a massive way on Saturday.
A moment of magic was required to break the deadlock midway through the first half, and Marcos Alonso proved more than capable as he sent the west London crowd into raptures for the first time in nearly 18 months. Alonso lined up his free kick from 20 yards out and a very difficult angle, and put it past Vicente Guaita with power and precision that couldn’t be stopped.
Pulisic doubled the lead not long before halftime, in the 40th minute (WATCH HERE). Mason Mount crossed from the right flank and Guaita spilled it inside the six-yard box. Pulisic arrived at just the right time to lift the ball over the bodies on the ground and ping it off the crossbar and over the goal line.
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Crystal Palace had their first look at goal in the 54th minute, but Kurt Zouma and Edouard Mendy combined to make a pair of blocks to thwart the threat of Wilfried Zaha without allowing a shot on target.
Four minutes later, Chalobah leathered the ball from 25 yards out to mark his Premier League debut with an unforgettable first goal. Chalobah received the ball with no one around him 40 yards from goal and he dribbled straight ahead before unleashing a perfectly placed, low laser into the far corner.