Jorginho

Pulisic leads Chelsea past Crystal Palace

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Chelsea beat a stubborn Crystal Palace side 2-0 at Stamford Bridge on Saturday, as Tammy Abraham and Christian Pulisic popped up with second half goals.

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Abraham opened the scoring and Pulisic then delivered a late header to cap off a fine individual display.

A sixth-straight Premier League win for Frank Lampard‘s side momentarily pushed them up to second place in the table.


3 things we learned

1. Confident Pulisic in full flow: From the first whistle Pulisic was feeling this and he went close on several occasions before he scored with his last touch of the game. The way he cut inside, dribbled past defenders and let fly was a joy to watch and Palace didn’t know how to handle the 21-year-old from Pennsylvania. Pulisic in full flow is a thing of beauty after his early struggles he’s now scored five PL goals in his last three games and this display was his best so far in a Chelsea shirt.

2. Blues miss Jorginho. Who partners him in midfield? Lampard will have a selection problem after the international break. Jorginho and Matteo Kovacic have played really well together while N’Golo Kante has been out, but Kante and Kovacic played well against Palace on Saturday. Kante is a guaranteed starter and Jorginho has now entered that territory as Chelsea missed his creativity and sublime passing skills against Palace. Kovacic played well but he will probably be the odd man out in central midfield.

3. Zaha frustrated by James: Chelsea teenager Reece James was handed his first PL start and he excelled to keep Wilfried Zaha quiet. The Palace winger was booked in the first half and look frustrated throughout as Palace couldn’t get him the ball and when he did, James timed his tackles superbly. James took his chance.

Man of the Match: Christian Pulisic – There is no American bias here. Pulisic was superb in the first half and then capped his fine display off with a late header before being subbed out to a standing ovation. What a few weeks for the USMNT star.


Chelsea took the game to Palace early on as Reece James’ cross almost caught out Vicente Guaita who had to tip the ball away.

Pulisic then dragged a shot wide as the Blues had most of the possession in the first half, and the USMNT star then bamboozled Joel Ward before forcing Guaita into a fine stop at his near post.

Willian and Emerson flashed free kicks wide and Pulisic then set up N’Golo Kante but his shot was well-blocked. Luka Milivojevic flashed a free kick wide of the far post as Palace struggled to get out of their own half in the first half.

Pulisic headed Kante’s cross over, then Willian’s shot was superbly blocked by Gary Cahill after Guaita had denied Tammy Abraham right on half time.

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At the start of the second half Chelsea called for a penalty kick as Pulisic bounced the ball off substitute Martin Kelly, but nothing was given.

Abraham buried his first chance of the game as Kovacic played the ball into Willian and his clever flick found the English striker onside and he slotted home to make it 1-0.

Kovacic then found Pulisic who took a great first touch and sent a powerful effort on goal which Guaita tipped over.

At the other end Milivojevic whipped in a dangerous free kick which found James Tomkins at the back post but he nodded just wide as the ball worked its way through a slew of bodies.

But with his final touch of the game Pulisic headed home after the ball deflected into his path and he scored for the third game running in the Premier League.

PL Preview: Chelsea v. Crystal Palace

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  • Crystal Palace has won 2 of 17 PL fixtures at Chelsea
  • Chelsea has not won 6 straight PL matches since 2017
  • Palace has 8 PL away wins in 2019, third most in the league

A suddenly dilapidated midfield threatens to halt Frank Lampard‘s good form as Chelsea hosts Crystal Palace on Saturday at Stamford Bridge, with kickoff set for 7:30 a.m. ET live on NBCSN or live online at NBCSports.com.

WATCH LIVE, ONLINE HERE

Chelsea’s midfield is banged up, with anchor Jorginho suspended for yellow card accumulation while N’Golo Kante has yet to return from a nagging ankle problem and Mason Mount‘s status is questionable after hobbling off in pain against Ajax midweek. Kante was an unused substitute against Ajax and could be in contention to start in place of Jorginho, but it has been a month since his last appearance and the French international has made just three league starts all year. In addition, Ross Barkley was confirmed to miss the match as the midfield continues to lose bodies.

Still, that seems the only thing in the way of the Blues at the moment, with the club riding high after its wild Champions League comeback midweek that saw them erase a 4-1 second-half deficit and very nearly find the winning stroke. With five straight wins in Premier League play on top of that, this Chelsea team is firing on all cylinders. They have scored 13 goals in those five league victories, and have scored 19 goals in eight matches across all competitions since the start of October.

Meanwhile, Crystal Palace has struggled through a brutal October schedule and hopes the turn to November will lift its fortunes. The Eagles have failed to win over its last three league games, with losses to Manchester City and Leicester City plus a draw with Arsenal. Now Palace draws Chelsea on the road before a home date with Liverpool rounds out an absolutely ruthless five-game stretch.

Still, Roy Hodgson has maintained a top ten standing despite the rut, with the club currently sitting ninth on 15 points, two ahead of Manchester United in 10th. The boss will take charge of his 300th Premier League game at Stamford Bridge, becoming the 15th person and sixth Englishman to reach that milestone.

Injuries/suspensions:

Chelsea: OUT – Jorginho (suspended), Antonio Rudiger (hip), Ross Barkley (knock), Ruben Loftus-Cheek (Achilles). QUESTIONABLE – Mason Mount (ankle), N’Golo Kante (ankle).

Crystal Palace: QUESTIONABLE – Andros Townsend (muscle), Gary Cahill (head), Cheikhou Kouyate (head), James McArthur (back).


Projected Lineups

Chelsea: Kepa; Emerson, Tomori, Zouma, Azpilicueta; Kante, Kovacic, Hudson-Odoi, Pulisic, Willian; Abraham.

Crystal Palace: Guaita; van Aanholt, Cahill, Tomkins, Ward; Milivojevic, Kouyate, McCarthy; Zaha, Ayew, Schlupp.


What they’re saying

Chelsea manager Lampard on Ajax draw: “There weren’t too many negatives. Some were freakish and some were on us, goals we don’t like to concede. To come back and to draw the game, we should take the positives. The fans were great. It starts with us.”

Palace boss Hodgson on Lampard: “Frank Lampard has done a very good job, there is no question about that. The club have (also) done a good job in encouraging the manager and his staff to blood some of the players that had previously been out on loan. Everyone at the club deserves a pat on the back for that.”


Prediction

Chelsea is in good form, but injuries have them a bit out of sorts, and the defensive performance against Ajax was a complete disaster. It’s been that way all season long in Premier League play, with just two clean sheets on the top flight season. Eventually, this will come back to haunt them, and with Mason Mount potentially out, those issues could combine to spell defeat. Meanwhile, Crystal Palace has shown well against good Premier League sides the last few weeks, and they are nearing a big result. The Eagles will bag an upset at Stamford Bridge with an impressive 2-1 win that gets Crystal Palace the signature win it has searched for over this brutal stretch of games, while leaving Frank Lampard with some defensive adjustments to make over the international break.

Premier League player Power Rankings

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Our latest Premier League player Power Rankings see USMNT star Christian Pulisic still flying high in the top five.

[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights ] 

Matchweek 11 was a beauty, with players from Liverpool, Chelsea and Leicester City all present throughout our top 20.

Remember: this is a list of the top 20 performing players right now in the Premier League. If they didn’t play in the last matchweek, they aren’t getting in this list!

Let us know in the comments section below if you agree with the selections.


1. Sadio Mane (Liverpool) – Up 10
2. Tammy Abraham (Chelsea) – New entry
3. Christian Pulisic (Chelsea) – Down 2
4. Jamie Vardy (Leicester City) – Down 2
5. Raul Jimenez (Wolves) – New entry
6. Andy Robertson (Liverpool) – New entry
7. Caglar Soyuncu (Leicester) – New entry
8. Kyle Walker (Man City) – New entry
9. Ben Foster (Watford) – Even
10. Phillip Billing (Bournemouth) – New entry
11. Jorginho (Chelsea) – Up 7
12. Marcus Rashford (Man United) – Down 6
13. Kevin De Bruyne (Man City) – Even
14. Youri Tielemans (Leicester City) – Even
15. Virgil Van Dijk (Liverpool) – Even
16. Steve Cook (Bournemouth) – New entry
17. Willian (Chelsea) – Up 3
18. Leandro Trossard (Brighton) – New entry
19. Trent Alexander-Arnold (Liverpool) – New entry
20. Jonjo Shelvey (Newcastle) – New entry

Pulisic on Chelsea’s wild draw v. Ajax; UCL hopes

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USMNT star Christian Pulisic put in another stellar display for Chelsea as they fought back to draw 4-4 after being 4-1 down at home against Ajax in the UEFA Champions League.

With Chelsea losing 4-2 in the second half, Ajax had two players (Daley Blind and Joel Veltman) sent off and conceded a penalty all in the same play.

Pulisic won a penalty kick early on which Jorginho converted and he was a constant threat throughout as he continues his great form in recent weeks.

The Blues ended up securing a crucial draw as they aim to reach the last 16 of the Champions League, and thought they had won it but Cesar Azpilicueta’s second goal was ruled out by VAR due to handball.

Speaking to reporters after the game, Pulisic revealed that even when they were 3-1 down at half time Chelsea’s players believed they could win the game.

“We are a confident bunch of guys. Even at half time we said to each other ‘we are going to win this game, we are coming back and we can do this’ and we always have to believe,” Pulisic said. “The whole thing was crazy. I didn’t even realize they got two red cards! It was pretty wild. Definitely a night to remember, but we still wanted the three points.”

Frank Lampard‘s side sit top of Group H but are on seven points, level with Ajax and Valencia. Their next game is a trip to Valencia in a pivotal clash at the Mestalla, as they end the group stage by playing bottom club Lille at home.

“This makes our next game even more important. We are still at the top of the group and we just need to win the next game. I think we are looking really good,” Pulisic added. “Today just showed the spirit of this team. We are never going to give up. We obviously have a lot of talent but that was more about the fight and will to come back.”

Pulisic’s own comeback has been impressive in recent weeks, as he’s scored four times in his last two Premier League appearances (his first Chelsea goals) and has also made a huge difference as they picked up four points over two games against Ajax.

The 21-year-old continues to cut in from the flank to use his devastating pace and creativity and after a month or so on the bench, he’s now one of the first names on Lampard’s teamsheet.

What a comeback for Chelsea against Ajax, and for Pulisic in general.

Chelsea storm back for 4-4 draw with Ajax (video)

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Chelsea were late to their own UEFA Champions League party with Ajax on Tuesday, helplessly headed for outright embarrassment by an irresistible side on their own field before busting the door down and turning it into Party of the Year at Stamford Bridge.

[ MORE: Champions League standings ]

Frank Lampard‘s Blues conceded an own goal in under two minutes before drawing level just two minutes later. Ajax went 2-1 and 3-1 ahead on a pair of sensational goals — the kind we’ve come to expect from the young side, even if one technically went down as an own goal — before halftime. Another superb goal from Donny van de Beek made it 4-1, and the game appeared to be done and dusted.

The game was turned on its head in the 68th minute, not long after Cesar Azpilicueta pulled Chelsea back to 4-2. Daley Blind was shown a second yellow for a challenge on Tammy Abraham. Joel Veltman was then shown a second yellow of his own for a handball in the box, a play which occurred just seconds after the referee played advantage on Blind’s infraction.

Jorginho converted his second penalty kick of the game to make it 4-3. 19-year-old Reece James hammered the ball through a sea of bodies to make it 4-4 in the 74th minute, and Azpilicueta thought he’d won it four minutes later, only to have the goal taken away by video review for a handball by Abraham.


Three things

1. Chelsea make it far too easy: Under no circumstances should a cross ever be allowed to bounce inside the penalty area before it’s met by an attacking or defending player. It is the responsibility of the defending team to ensure that is the case, and Chelsea failed to do so when Ajax took the lead for the second (and final) time in the 20th minute.

The amount of space enjoyed by everyone — from the crosser, Ziyech, to the finisher, Van de Beek — should leave every defender in a blue shirt downright embarrassed for their lack of positional awareness and effort.

2. Sometimes brilliance can’t be stopped: Of course, it matters very little how easy you make things when Ziyech is capable of beating you at any time, from anywhere, with something truly spectacular, like this…

3. Pulisic a driving force throughout: Christian Pulisic, played in a central role behind Abraham, was beyond impressive in this game. In truth, he was Chelsea’s best player. On a night that saw most of his teammates fail to impress whatsoever, Pulisic was decisive and dangerous throughout. The 21-year-old American won Chelsea’s early penalty, had a would-be assist spoiled by an offside call and another robbed when Azpilicueta poached a goal from Abraham, set up by Pulisic, that was already going in. That makes three strong outings in his last three starts, and Pulisic has made a strong case for further inclusion in Lampard’s team. Notably, Mason Mount left Tuesday’s game with an injury and could be out for some time.


Man of the match: Hakim Ziyech

The result sees Chelsea and Ajax remain first and second in Group H, as they began the day, only now third-place Valencia sits level with both of them on seven points after thrashing Lille in the group’s other game. With two games left to play, there are two knockout places still very much up for grabs.