Chelsea

Chelsea beat Palace in thriller

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Chelsea beat Crystal Palace 3-2 in a thriller at Selhurst Park as Christian Pulisic scored once again for the Blues as they momentarily moved up to third in the Premier League table.

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Olivier Giroud and Pulisic put Chelsea 2-0 up in the first half but Wilfried Zaha pulled one back with a great strike from distance. Tammy Abraham jumped off the bench to make it 3-1, then Christian Benteke made it 3-2 as Chelsea survived some scary moments late on as Scott Dann hit the post and Kurt Zouma made a sublime last-gasp tackle in the 95th minute.

CRYSTAL PALACE – CHELSEA: FULL REPLAY

With the win Chelsea now have 60 points with four games to go, while Palace have lost four of their five games since the restart and sit in 14th place with 42 points.


Three things we learned

1. Pulisic does it again: Three goals in five games since the restart for the USMNT winger and Palace struggled to contain him. They tried to kick him all over the pitch and had a central midfielder in McArthur doubling up on him with a full back. And Pulisic still scored. A constant treat, his pace was an outlet for Chelsea and alongside Bruno Fernandes, he’s been the best player in the PL since the restart. Pulisic and Willian switched flanks multiple times throughout and Pulisic Watch gives you an idea of just how good he was.

2. Chelsea’s defensive woes continue: Chelsea were really good in attack but pretty woeful defensively. Sound familiar? Yep. Kepa should have stopped Zaha’s strike. Yes, he hit it hard but it was central. Andreas Christensen was beaten too easily on Palace’s second goal and Chelsea did their best to chuck away the win late on. Lampard needs a new left back, center back and goalkeeper if he’s going to turn Chelsea into genuine title contenders. They missed N’Golo Kante through injury and it showed but in midfield and attack they look pretty set and have lots of options. At the back they did not. That needs to change.

3. Palace need Zaha on the ball more: He spanked home a fine goal and created key chances late on, but Zaha wasn’t on the ball enough. Chelsea had Reece James trying to lock him down and Palace need Zaha in more central areas. When he drifts around he is so tough to stop.

Man of the Match

Willian – He was everywhere for Chelsea, setting up two goals and always an outlet. His experience on the ball helped them ease some of the pressure. Hard to believe his Chelsea career may be over in a few weeks.


Chelsea took the lead in fortunate circumstances as former Chelsea defender Gary Cahill went down with a big injury out wide and Willian raced clear on goal and found Giroud to sweep home the opener.

Mamadou Sakho replaced the injured Cahill and Palace were all over the place defensively. Soon after Kurt Zouma headed wide from a corner as the Frenchman was 10 yards out and should have doubled Chelsea’s lead.

Pulisic did make it 2-0 after the drinks break as Willian found him on the left and he did superbly to shift the ball onto his left foot and he slammed home at the near post to score his third goal in his last five games.

Just as it looked like Chelsea would run away with things, Zaha smashed home from 30 yards out as his thunderbolt from distance caught out Kepa, who may have done better with the effort, and it was game on.

[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights

Pulisic buzzed around in the box but Chelsea couldn’t quite find his runs as Palace were under pressure. Giroud then headed a wonderful Reece James cross over as Chelsea clicked through the gears in the second half. Palace did come back into the game in the final 25 minutes as they peppered the Chelsea goal with crosses.

Chelsea then brought on Ruben Loftus-Cheek and Abraham and the duo combined as RLC dinked the ball to Abraham who slotted home off the far post and in to make it 3-1.  Moments later Palace made it 3-2 as Patrick van Aanholt worked his way into the box and teed up Benteke to tap home and set up a wild finish.

Abraham went close to scoring another as Chelsea were dangerous on the counter but Chelsea almost imploded defensively once again late on. First, Dann hit the post with a header as Kepa looked to have got a fingertip on it. Then Zouma arrived just on time to deny Benteke who was somehow clean through on goal in the 95th minute.

Lampard was relieved at the final whistle as Chelsea edged to a hugely important victory.

Pulisic Watch: USMNT star scores again for Chelsea

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Christian Pulisic Watch is in full flow as the USMNT star is having a wonderful start to the restart for Chelsea.

[ MORE: Pulisic Watch, Analysis ]

Pulisic, 21, is probably the best player in the Premier League since the restart. Think about that.

As the Eden Hazard comparisons continue, Pulisic just keeps getting his head down and working hard, bamboozling defenders and scoring goals. The Pennsylvanian Messi has now scored three goals in five Premie League games since the restart and he has nine for the season to keep his status as the Premier League’s top goalscorer this season aged 21 or under.

[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights

In our latest ‘Christian Pulisic Watch’ we look at his latest superstar display for Chelsea as he was trending worldwide throughout Chelsea’s clash at Crystal Palace.


2nd minute: First touch of the ball out on the left flank as Palace try and snap into the tackles.

5th minute: Dropping deeper centrally to try and pick up the ball.

6th minute: Ran into the box as Willian raced clear of the stricken Gary Cahilll, and proved to be a decoy run as Willian found Olivier Giroud to make it 1-0.

8th minute: Pulisic hooks the ball on centrally to start an attack as Willian tries to get a shot off but it is cleared.

15th minute: Kepa throws the ball out to him but James McArthur closed him down and he plays it back to Azpilicueta.

17th minute: Switches flanks with Willian and is now playing out on the right. McArthur again snaps into a tackle to stop him wriggling away.

22nd minute: Snapping into tackles as he tries to close down Patrick van Aanholt.

25th minute: Giroud lays the ball off to him and he loses it with McArthur once again snapping

27th minute: GOALLL! Pulisic is back on the left and he is set free by Willian. He works the ball onto his left foot and smashes home at the near post. What a strike. His third goal in five Premier League games since the restart.

29th minute: Cuts inside from the left and is tackled in the box by Joel Ward. A constant threat.

31st minute: Back on the right flank now as he switches with Willian again. Finds Willian with a lovely pass but the Brazilian sees his low shot saved.

35th minute: Wins a free kick and Luka Milivojevic is booked for bringing down Pulisic on the left flank.

41st minute: Works hard to try and keep hold of the ball on the right flank as Palace came back strongly after going 2-0 down, with Wilfried Zaha’s stunner making it 2-1.

45th minute: Pulisic is taken down by Joel Ward now. Palace trying to rattle the young American winger.

46th minute: Fast start to the second half as he tries to find Giroud, then almost gets on the end of a cross in front of Vicente Guaita.

48th minute: Involved in the build up and almost gets on the end of Reece James cross at the near post.

53rd minute: Makes a run into the box but Olivier Giroud’s header can’t quite find him. Pulisic then runs at Palace’s defense centrally but three Palace players eventually stop him.

63rd minute: Quiet 10 minutes or so for Pulisic as Palace have plenty of the ball.

74th minute: Doing lots of work defensively as Palace pull a goal back to make it 3-2, just after Abraham scored for Chelsea.

86th minute: Keeps trying to make runs centrally and is in the box when Abraham dragged a shot wide.

90th minute: Accelerates away from his marker and his cross finds Willian who sees his shot blocked. Pulisic left about four Palace players in his trail.

VIDEO: Pulisic smashes home superb goal

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“Christian Pulisic goal for Chelsea” is a term we are getting more and more used to hearing.

The USMNT star scored again for Chelsea at Crystal Palace in a London derby, as he’s now scored three goals in his first five Premier League games back.

We are not exaggerating when we say that Pulisic has been the best player in the Premier League since the restart.

CRYSTAL PALACE – CHELSEA STREAM LIVE

Pulisic was switching between right and left flank and caused Palace plenty of problems, as Frank Lampard spoke about many people comparing him to Eden Hazard in the week.

“Christian is more direct. He has the ability to break a line and run forward which is a great trait in the modern game,” Lampard said. “Why I shy away from it the other night is because Eden has been here and done it over a period of time to an incredible level. Christian has it in his hands to make a real impact over time. It’s great to see him [doing well] but there’s a lot of development to come. Christian is taking responsibility to change games.”

The Pennsylvanian native certainly looked like Hazard at Selhurst Park as the latest Pulisic goal for Chelsea was a beauty.

For his goal he was set free by Willian, as he worked the ball onto his left foot and smashed home at the near post. What a strike.

Check out the latest Pulisic goal in the video above, as he now has nine goals in his debut season in the Premier League.

Crystal Palace – Chelsea, Watford – Norwich: Stream, How to watch

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Crystal Palace – Chelsea promises to be an intriguing clash at Selhurst Park on Tuesday (start time, 1pm ET on NBCSN and online via NBCSports.com) in a London derby, while Watford – Norwich is a massive game in the relegation battle (start time, 1pm ET online via NBCSports.com).

Christian Pulisic continues to be the main man for Chelsea as the USMNT star put in another superb display in their 3-0 win against Watford and the Blues remain on track to finish in the top four and qualify for the Champions League. As for Palace, they have lost their last three games on the trot without scoring and Roy Hodgson’s side look destined for a midtable finish.

CRYSTAL PALACE – CHELSEA STREAM LIVE

WATFORD – NORWICH STREAM LIVE

As for Watford, they need a win to boost their survival hopes and if they get it, they will send bottom club. Norwich even closer to their relegation zone.

Below is everything you need to know ahead of Crystal Palace – Chelsea and Watford – Norwich.


Team news

Palace will be without James Tomkins, Jeffrey Schlupp and Martin Kelly, while Hodgson may bring back Cheikhou Kouyate and Scott Dann who were rested.

Chelsea will be without N’Golo Kante and Mateo Kovacic through injury, as Billy Gilmour starts in central midfield.

Watford bring in Masina and Welbeck after the loss at Chelsea.

Norwich bring Pukki back into the starting lineup.

Odds and ends (full matchweek odds)

Crystal Palace are huge underdogs (+650) as Chelsea (-220) are the red-hot favorites given their three wins from their first four games of the restart. The tie at +335 is where the value is at because as we saw with Chelsea’s shock defeat at West Ham last week, they can be dominated from set pieces and hit on the counter. Those two aspects are huge strengths of Palace’s game.

Watford are the favorites (-152) while Norwich (+440) are hoping for their first win, and points, since the restart. The tie at +285 seems intriguing to me.

Predictions

We are all expecting a Chelsea win here but don’t be surprised if Wilfried Zaha has a day at makes it a very tough outing for this leaky Chelsea defense. Palace have been fired up and shocked Chelsea before but I think the Blues, led by Pulisic, have too much for Palace. 3-1 to Chelsea. As for Watford against Norwich, I’m going for a 1-1 draw. Watford have been bad since the restart and Norwich have nothing to play for, really. That is dangerous.

Transfer news: Ake to Man United; Rice to Chelsea

Nathan Ake Manchester United
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In the latest transfer news Nathan Ake has been linked with a move to Manchester United, while Declan Rice could be heading back to Chelsea.

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Starting in Manchester, a post-game chat between Ole Gunnar Solskjaer and Nathan Ake has turned heads following Man United’s 5-2 win against Bournemouth at the weekend.

Apparently Solskjaer told Ake: “We need a left-footed centre-back, so keep going.”

Ake, 25, has been linked with a return to Chelsea (who have a $48 million buy-back clause) and Manchester City, but it appears Nathan Ake to Manchester United has some legs. Solskjaer has been looking for a new center back with Kalidou Koulibaly, Dayot Upamecano and others linked to line up alongside Harry Maguire.

Victor Lindelof has struggled at times and is ahead of Eric Bailly in the pecking order and Man United do need to strengthen their defense slightly as they have plenty of options in midfield and attack, although a new true holding midfield could be a must in the next few windows.

If Bournemouth are relegated from the Premier League, Ake will surely leave and Man United could pick him up for a lot less than $48 million.

Declan Rice to Chelsea
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Switching to west London, Declan Rice could be heading back to Chelsea this summer.

A report from The Times states that Chelsea want Rice, 21, to return and become a ball-playing center back to shore up their defensive unit.

The report goes on to state that the boyhood Chelsea fan is seen as the perfect successor to John Terry at the heart of the Chelsea defense.

Rice has shone in recent weeks and is the one player in West Ham’s team who has been consistent despite their struggles at the wrong end of the Premier League table this season.

Chelsea have been searching high and low for defensive reinforcements and want more power and strength at center back. Rice can play at center back and in a three he would be prefect. His main position is in holding midfield and his flexibility to strengthen Chelsea’s shaky defense would be key. Rice is close friends with Mason Mount and after leaving Chelsea’s academy as a 14-year-old he has forged out a very good career for himself as a regular for West Ham and England.

Rice would cost a huge sum and this move to Chelsea may hinge on whether or not West Ham are relegated in the final weeks of the 2019-20 Premier League season.