Christian Pulisic and Willian stood out while Andreas Christensen was underwhelming as Chelsea beat Crystal Palace 3-2 on Tuesday.
Chelsea were on the money from the get-go, dominating possession in the early exchanges. In fact, the Blues were ahead just six minutes into the game, although they were a bit fortunate in the build-up, as Willian was given a clear run on the right flank after Gary Cahill went down due to a hamstring injury. Willian’s squared ball was converted without fuss by Olivier Giroud.
Before the half-hour mark was reached, Chelsea were two to the good, as Christian Pulisic scored a marvellous goal, beating Vicente Guaita at his near post. Crystal Palace, though, finally woke from their slumber seven minutes later, as Wilfried Zaha produced a thunderous long-range finish which swerved wildly into the top right corner.
Chelsea reinstated their two-goal advantage, as Tammy Abraham’s powerfully driven shot went past Guaita before Palace set up an exciting finish a minute later, when Christian Benteke scored from point-blank range after meeting Patrick van Aanholt’s low cross.
The visitors, though, held on for the narrow win, before ending the day at third on the Premier League table, as Leicester City failed to beat Arsenal. The Hard Tackle now runs the rule over Frank Lampard’s men after an unconvincing, yet important win.
Kepa Arrizabalaga: 6/10
Kepa started the game in nervy fashion, as his first pass in the game was a scuffed one and went straight to James McArthur. Fortunately for the Spaniard, the Scottish midfielder is not really known to be prolific with his shooting and missed his lobbed effort.
The 25-year-old surprisingly came in for a lot of criticism for failing to get to Wilfried Zaha’s shot, but this was one of those strikes that were unstoppable. Could not have done much to deny Christian Benteke either. Made a couple of crucial saves, though.
Reece James: 6/10
A hit and miss game for James, who started the game strongly, providing the pass that sent Willian through on the right flank before Olivier Giroud scored Chelsea’s first. However, the youngster also gave the ball away in the lead-up to Zaha’s goal. Active at the back, with 3 clearances, 3 tackles, 2 interceptions and 1 block to show for his efforts. Crosses need more precision, though.
Andreas Christensen: 5/10
After being largely solid for the most part since the resumption of the Premier League, this was a game to forget for Christensen. The Dane was slow to react when Zaha got plenty of time and space to score Crystal Palace’s first goal.
He was then turned inside out easily by Patrick van Aanholt in the build-up to the hosts’ second. In between, Christensen had some decent moments, including 4 interceptions while having a solid 95 percent passing rate, which saves the rating from tanking. Needs to do his primary job a bit better, though, next time around.
Kurt Zouma: 7/10
While his partner was having a poor evening, Zouma was largely solid. Conceding two goals does reflect poorly on him as well and he could have done better to stick close to Benteke for the Belgian striker’s goal. However, Zouma made amends soon after with a clutch lunging tackle on the Crystal Palace frontman to save the three points for his side. Also, lost the ball just 2 times all game.
Cesar Azpilicueta: 6/10
The usually reliable Azpilicueta had a difficult evening against Crystal Palace. The Chelsea captain spent a lot of time in his own half, with the interchanging Jordan Ayew and Zaha pegging him back for large parts of the game. Did fairly well against the duo, winning 6 ground duels, although that meant his output in the final third was negligible. Also lost possession an alarming 18 times.
Ross Barkley: 6/10
Barkley has been one of the more consistent performers for Chelsea of late. But, this time around, the English international was not quite at his best and hardly saw the ball, making 15 passes in the entire game. While not necessarily wasteful on the ball, he failed to do much with it and was taken off for Ruben Loftus-Cheek, who could be challenging him for that midfield spot.
Billy Gilmour: 7/10
Preferred over Jorginho in a surprising move, Gilmour cut a typically confident figure in the middle of the park. His only real pitfall against Crystal Palace was the failure to put some pressure on Zaha for his goal.
Otherwise, it was a solid display by the teenager, who set a quick tempo to the game and even played in 1 key pass apart from completing 6/7 long balls attempted, which opened up play quite well. In what was an all-action display, he also had 2 interceptions and 3 tackles to show for his efforts. Another promising display.
Mason Mount: 7/10
Much like Gilmour, this was an industrious performance by Mount, who put a shift in defensively while also making himself available in the final third when the opportunity presented itself. The young midfielder won 6 duels, had a shot saved and made 1 key pass in the game while misplacing just 6 passes. Decent enough.
— Premier League (@premierleague) July 7, 2020
Willian had his typical misgivings at times in the game, but there were few players more crucial to Chelsea’s win over Crystal Palace than him. Fortunate to get past Gary Cahill as easily as he did, the Brazilian was composed enough to provide an inch-perfect pass to Giroud for the first goal.
Willian then had a nice interplay with Giroud in the build-up to Christian Pulisic’s goal. Apart from those two moments, the Brazilian also played in 3 more key passes and worked hard off the ball, true to his nature. Losing the ball 21 times knocks back his ratings slightly, though.
Olivier Giroud: 7/10
Preferred over Tammy Abraham once again, Giroud vindicated Lampard’s selection with the finish for his goal, calmly slotting the ball into the back of the net. The Frenchman also created one big chance for Pulisic and impressed with his hold-up play. Giroud, though, really should have ended the game with a brace, as he failed to convert Reece James’s cross just before being taken off.
Christian Pulisic: 8/10
X factor 👊
Chelsea have won every Premier League match Pulisic has scored in! pic.twitter.com/4IghpaH1T4
— ESPN FC (@ESPNFC) July 7, 2020
Pulisic was a little slow off the block, but there was no stopping him when he found his feet. The US international was purposeful in his performance, with his goal being a mark of a player who is riding a wave of confidence at the moment. Pulisic even made 3 key passes and created 1 big chance in the game. So crucial in Chelsea’s run, having come into his own since the restart.
Ruben Loftus-Cheek: 7/10
Introduced with around 30 minutes left in the game, Loftus-Cheek was a man on a mission. Just six minutes after being subbed in, Loftus-Cheek made an impact, creating the chance for Tammy Abraham’s goal with a cheeky dink. Also completed each of the 20 passes he attempted. Should be getting more games in the coming weeks.
Tammy Abraham: 7/10
— Chelsea FC (@ChelseaFC) July 7, 2020
A frustrating wait for a goal ended for Tammy Abraham against Crystal Palace, as he scored his first in 10 games. The finish, driven past Vicente Guaita, will surely hold him in good stead.
Jorginho replaced Billy Gilmour with 10 minutes to go and was involved a great deal, attempting a whopping 30 passes in that time. Looked intent on making things happen, as he looks to win his place back in the side.