Joel Ward’s 81st minute header secured Crystal Palace a rare 2-1 win against Chelsea at Stamford Bridge last night.
Alan Pardew’s men scored first through Bakary Sako, after good interplay between Pape Souare and Yannick Bolasie on the left-side of the field allowed space for a cross that was struck past Thibaut Courtois on the second chance.
Chelsea found an equaliser in the 79th minute through substitute Radamel Falcao, picked out at the near post by Pedro’s delivery in from the right-side, yet it took the Eagles only a matter of minutes to regain the lead through Ward. Bolasie was able to find Sako unmarked at the Chelsea far post, who then played the ball back into the centre of the six-yard area where a diving header from Ward was able to get the send into the net.
The win was the first for Palace at Stamford Bridge in the league since 1982, condemning Jose Mourinho to only his second home loss in his 100th home game as coach of Chelsea.
Ride-side of defence an issue for Chelsea
The problems that Chelsea are having with Branislav Ivanovic were once again on show for much of this game. Crystal Palace worked well in creating most of their chances with the speed of Wilfried Zaha in the first-half and Bolasie after the break, as well as overlapping runs from Souare. The mounting pressure turned out to be too much, really showing a lacking aspect of the Blues defence.
There is no doubting the impact that Ivanovic has had during his time at the club, however, he was caught giving players such as Bolasie too much space which allowed them to setup chances, both goals for the visitors being set up on his flank of the field. It is one of the areas that Mourinho might want to look at before the transfer window closes at the end of the weekend. Chelsea are publicly chasing after John Stones from Everton, who has previously played in the right-back role and might be quite important to potentially fixing this issue.
Palace defence able to hold strong
There were many chances for the Chelsea during the game, however, Palace’s deep defensive line kept much of the shots from the Blues coming from outside the box. Damien Delaney was strong against Diego Costa, keeping the Spaniard fairly quiet for much of the game and even getting physical to throw the striker on tilt slightly in the first-half. The deep defending was also stood up against quick passing from the hosts that was designed to try and create space for the forwards to move in and score
The central-defensive combination of Delaney and Scott Dann threw themselves in front of any shot they were able to and on a couple of occasions blocked consecutive strikes that kept made sure Palace held their lead.
Apart from getting beaten at the near post, Alex McCarthy was also strong between the posts, making a good double save that involved Costa and Cesc Fabregas late in the first-half.
Chelsea have endured a shaky start to their title defence, and this home defeat shows that they will have to make some improvements if they want to go back-to-back.
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