Chelsea's young guns climb ever higher by finding a way through obdurate Crystal Palace 

Christian Pulisic celebrates scoring their second goal
Christian Pulisic scores Chelsea's second in the 2-0 victory over Crystal Palace Credit:  Action Images via Reuters/Tony O'Brien

Frank Lampard had revealed some superstitious reservations about his first Manager of the Month award, but he has little to fear from any unlucky omens while his young Chelsea side continue to display this heady mixture of verve and maturity.​

It was Chelsea’s sixth successive league victory, meaning they are now on their best run since Antonio Conte’s title-winning side lorded it in the spring of 2017. And if an obdurate Crystal Palace side refused to subside easily, Lampard’s team again showed a range of qualities to pass another big test and move into, at least temporarily, second place in the table.​

Tammy Abraham registered his 11th goal of the campaign to give Chelsea the breakthrough early in the second half and another victory was assured when Christian Pulisic scored in his third league outing in a row.​

Lampard, who referred to the “curse” of the Manager of the Month award after collecting the accolade for October, said: “We came out for the second half with intent, an extra 10 per cent of urgency and we won the game relatively comfortably. It was a nice, solid win with a clean sheet.​

“A few teams have come here and been difficult to break down. It is a test for us not only on how to unlock the door but also how to stay switched on and not fall for the sucker punch. I was delighted with the game management.”​

Tammy Abraham breaks the deadlock Credit:  NEIL HALL/EPA-EFE/REX

Chelsea had recovered from three down to grab a 4-4 Champions League draw with Ajax three nights earlier and the impetus of that revival launched them into a rapid start in Saturday’s lunchtime kick-off.​

Palace were manning the barricades from the off as eager Chelsea poured forward. Vicente Guaita, the Palace goalkeeper, distinguished himself by smothering Pulisic’s angled shot after the American had been picked out by a sweeping pass from Willian, who then went close with a 14th-minute free-kick. Willian was at the heart of Chelsea’s hub of activity, creating but also covering, and collecting a yellow card from referee Mike Dean for a tactical foul on Jordan Ayew as the Palace forward sought to instigate an attack. And then there was Mason Mount, who had limped out of the Ajax match with an ankle injury but who was constantly probing for a way through the visitors’ defence. Yet Palace have a resilience about them. Roy Hodgson’s side are built to absorb pressure and then hit on the break. Their defensive rock was Gary Cahill, the former Chelsea captain warmly welcomed back at Stamford Bridge for the first time since leaving the club with whom he won eight ­major trophies across seven years.​

Christian Pulisic stoops to conquer Credit: AP Photo/Alastair Grant

 

It was Cahill who got the crucial ­deflection, just as Dean prepared to blow the whistle for half-time, to Willian’s goalbound shot from Reece James’s dangerous low cross from the right. Chelsea had arrived at the midway point of their past two home league matches with the game goalless before going on to victory so Stamford Bridge knows the value of patience, but there was not long to wait.​

Palace had been penned in their own half from the restart and Chelsea needed just seven minutes to manufacture the breakthrough, Willian’s touch forward finding the just-onside Abraham, who dispatched from eight yards. Chelsea might have added a second but Guaita reached out to push away Pulisic’s powerful drive. It marked a turning point. Suddenly it was Palace who pushed forward, Cheikhou Kouyate beginning to impose himself in the middle of the park, Wilfried Zaha starting to open up the left flank.​

It could have been a nervous finale but Chelsea displayed a measure of containment before snuffing out the Palace uprising after 79 minutes when Pulisic headed in from close range.​

Roy Hodgson, the Palace manager who was taking charge of his 300th Premier League match, said: “The second goal was unfortunate. We were starting to grow into the game but after that it was difficult for us to get back into it. But I have nothing to reproach the team for.”​

Lampard can now contemplate a trip to Manchester City the weekend after next. Chelsea look ready for their next big test.​

Lampard speaks

We’re happy with what we’re doing. We respect where Liverpool and Manchester City are. This season is about bridging the gap. At the minute we’re staying close and we’re in good form. I’m proud of the players and I believe in them. You never know with young players until you put them in. But they’ve shown they’ve got the mindset and ability and desire to play for Chelsea. I’ll enjoy maybe two bottles of wine tonight!

Full time

Willian whips the free-kick with his right foot towards the top left corner but can't get it to dip in time and it skims the top of the crossbar. Mike Dean blows his whistle for time and Lampard shakes Hodgson's hand before going to embrace each one of his players - and Gary Cahill as well. 

90+3 min

Zouma hits Zaha hard in the tackle. He got the ball but there was enough left on him to warrant a word at the very least from the ref. Instead he books McCarthy for a foot-up challenge as he battled for a bouncing ball. Chelsea free-kick 25 yards out, a tickle right of centre. 

90+1 min

Willian down the right checks and plays the ball back to Kante who picks out Batshuayi in the middle of the box. He traps it, back to goal, but instead of rolling it to the yelling Hudson-Odoi, he swivels and shoots into Tomkins' shins. 

90 min

Hoddle makes Willian his (the?) man of the match. We'll have four more minutes. 

88 min

Gilmour replaces Mount. Hudson-Odoi storms up the centre, haring away from Schlupp and Milivojevic to shoot from 20 yards but inaccurately. 

86 min

McCarthy steps off Kovacic to meet a left-wing cross with his left-foot shot and sweeps it towards the bottom left corner. Kepa makes  a smart save given he couldn't have seen McCarthy until late. 

Pulisic stumbles after heading the ball past Guaita Credit: Action Images via Reuters/Tony O'Brien

 

84 min

Schlupp brings down the Chelsea captain Willian who must have been tripped half a dozen times and awarded the same number of free-kicks. Nothing comes of this one and Palace defend and raid up the left until a misunderstanding in teeming rain between Zaha and McCarthy allows a pass from the latter intended for the former roll out for a throw. 

82 min

That was Pulisic's final touch. He is replaced by Hudson-Odoi with the applause ringing in his ears. Palace send on McCarthy for Kouyate.  

79 min

VAR check proves no offside. Long diagonal from Kovacic from right to left. Pulisic traps it and runs inside, flashing his feet hither and thither. he picks out Batshuayi in the box by the spot who turns to shoot but the ball is deflected and loops up towards the far post. Pulisic had continued his run and buried his finish, steering a cute header past a wrong-footed Guaita. 

GOAL!!?

Chelsea 2-0 Palace (Pulisic)

78 min

Palace defend the corner and push Chelsea back to halfway where they pass the ball about for a bit before going back to Kepa to start a fresh attack. 

76 min

Emerson accelerates from a rolling start 10 yards into the Palace half and flays a cross-shot a few feet wide of the far post. Took a deflection, too. Chelsea corner. 

74 min

Chelsea substitution: Abraham is replaced by Michy Batshuayi. 

72 min

Palace have been good since conceding. Chelsea are sitting off their defence a bit much and allowing them to pick out long passes. 

70 min

Ayew is tripped by Zouma. Free-kick wide on the right, parallel with the 18-yard line. Palace send on Schlupp for McArthur. Milivojevic takes and arcs it deep. Tomkins meets it having lost his marker and bullets it past the post. Should have scored. 

68 min

Pulisic is now an incorrigible shooter after the hat-trick the other week. When found by Mount he spoons his effort, with Abraham yelling for the throughball, into the crowd. 

66 min

Zaha found by another diagonal does not take on James this time and hits an early deep cross from the left that is targeted in Kelly's late run but it dips too late and bends too far too early, hooping beyond him for a goal kick. 

64 min

Zaha has an opportunity to show his own dazzling feet as he skips through the box from the left. he beats one man but James watches the ball not the deceptive shoulders and feet and block-tackles him with poise and purpose.  

That's amore: Abraham salutes the Chelsea faithful Credit: Chris Lee - Chelsea FC/Chelsea FC via Getty Images

 

62 min

Palace defend well again when Willian's lovely footwork creates space, with a dip of the shoulder, a turn of the defender, for Abraham to shoot again. Palace closed his space and, though beaten, didn't dive in to the tackle/foul.  

Abraham puts Chelsea ahead Credit:  GLYN KIRK/AFP via Getty Images

 

60 min

Good save by Guaita after Pulisic diddles Kelly with a flick inside as he receives a long bass 30 yards out as he cuts in from the left. It allows him to round the full-back, tear towards goal and skelp a shot bound for the top left corner until Guaita leaps to slap it round the post. 

58 min

Palace free-kick after a foul by Kante. Up go Cahill and Tomkins but Chelsea defend it competently. 

56 min

Van Aanholt spins in off the left and threads a pass up to Kouyate on the 18-yard line. He turns and to his surprise Tomori is standing off him but he snatches at his shot and cannons it into the defender's shins as he desperately rectified his mistake. 

54 min

Abraham's name is sung a moment after his touch provoked a groan. Emerson shifts the ball in from the left, Willian knocks it on with a sumptuous round-the-corner wall pass and Abraham, breaking down the inside-left channel opens his body to steer a right-foot shot across Guaita's dive and in at the far post. Terrific move. 

GOAL!!

Chelsea 1-0 Palace (Abraham)

52 min

Glenn Hoddle thinks it's a day for Giroud and a switch of ploy to arcing in crosses - of they can find a way to the byline. 

50 min

No space for Kante either around Palace's five-man midfield or through it. So he buys time 35 yards out, waiting for an opportunity which is presented when he passes to James and Milivojevic knocks him down. The free-kick again falls foul of a heavy touch and lack of space.  

48 min

Chelsea begin the second half as they did the first, full of vim and attacking intent. They find William in the box but he is caught in the web of Palace's offside trap, precision timed after 40 years of oiling by Hodgson. 

46 min

No changes either in personnel or formation as Chelsea kick off. Crowd shout for a penalty (and Lampard joins in) when Pulisic miscontrols, the ball stands up and hits Kelly in the stomach as he turned to usher it away. 

Half-time

Sensational save from Guaita and a full-stretch block by Cahill deny Chelsea a goal at the death of the first half when James' excellent cross picks out Willian who controls it deftly and swivels to shoot. When the ball flies behind for a corner, the referee blows time up and off they go, Cahill smiling at his friends and former team-mates. 

45+3 min  

Dean gives Chelsea a Mulligan when Kepa makes a misjudgment and catches Zouma by surprise with a poor throw. Zouma telescopes out a leg to take it but Zaha nips in and pokes it away, hoping to sprint into the box but the referee says he fouled Zouma which he plainly didn't. 

45 +2 min 

James takes the ball down the right, takes on Van Aanholt, checks back and rolls it to Kante who stands up a right-foot cross towards the penalty spot. Pulisic goes up and gets under it,  twisting his header high, wide and hideous. 

45 min

Four minutes will be added on for the time Ward took and the numerous fouls. Palace have defended with Trojan hearts and sound organisation. Chelsea will be frustrated.  

44 min

That's it for Ward. He is back on his backside again and buys time for Kelly to replace him. 

42 min

Chelsea corner but before that Joel Ward drops to his haunches, injured when he challenged Emerson from the previous free-kick. Kelly warms up but Ward carries on for now. The corner comes out to Willian who lets fly from 22 yards and the ball takes a wicked deflection but Palace emerge unscathed as Guaita adjusts his feet quickly to save.   

Mike Dean lays down the law Credit: GLYN KIRK/AFP via Getty Images

 

40 min

McArthur is unhappy to be penalised for hanging a leg across Abraham as he cut inside from the right. Willian will take - 35 yards out on the right. He chips it deep beyond the far post and out for a goalkick. Make that a free-kick as Emerson is erroneously flagged offside for his back-post run. 

38 min

Kouyate tackles Abraham who fancied turning him with a swivel and a dip of the shoulder but their two lines of four and five mean Ayew is on his own when they do win it back in defence and attempt to spring an attack. 

36 min

James is warned by the referee a second time after his booking. Azpilicueta warms up in case Zaha's feet jeopardise his chances of staying on. The right-back and the left winger rob the ball form each other within 20 seconds with little sign of malice. Palace hold form in defence when Pulisic and Kovacic combine on the left, Tomkins heading it firmly clear. 

34 min

Yellow card for Kovacic for a sliding lunge on Townsend to stop him counter-attacking at pace. Lampard receives plenty of plaudits for his freewheeling style. There's something of the old cynic in there, too. 

32 min

Mike Dean plays advantage to let Palace continue a slick passing move that frees Zaha to have a run at James who kicks his feet from under him right at the left right-angle of the box. Dean then goes back to book Emerson for his hack at Townsend. Townsend takes the free-kick, floating it over the box and beyond the back post for a goal kick. 

30 min

Mount takes the free-kick with his right and Ayew heads it clear at the right end of the wall. Palace try to break quickly and Mount stops them doing so with a tug. 

28 min

Pulisic dazzles with his stepovers and stop-starts inside the box and Guaita has to come out and punch, taking Abraham as collateral damage, to avert the immediate threat. Back comes Mount and Palace trip him at the edge of the box. The umpteenth Palace foul of the match. Free-kick in the heart of the D. 

25 min

 Palace enjoy some sustained possession for a spell until Ward, after neat work from Townsend, overhits his cross from the right and Chelsea waltz clear. The home side have been dominant without being incisive so far and Palace will be delighted to be 0-0 after so many mistakes when they have had their paltry moments of possession. 

Willian goes close with a free-kick Credit:  Mike Hewitt/Getty Images

 

23 min

Emerson gets it up and over the wall but it drifts miles wide. 

21 min

Zaha escapes punishment for his naked exasperation at the award of a foul and then kicking the ball away. But not a minute later when Willian and James double team him to rob him and he boots Willian on the calf to stop him breaking into the Palace box. Chelsea free-kick two yards out from the right right-angle of the box. Emerson lines it up. 

19 min

Palace find Zaha for the first time with a long diagonal from right to left but he can't keep hold of possession and back come Chelsea until Zaha halts their progress with an equally cynical barge into Kovacic who lathers it up somewhat with a dramatic, planking collapse. 

17 min

Pulisic is mesmerising Palace with his footwork, Willian is uncontainable down the right and Palace keep committing fouls to hang on to their coat tails. Willian's corner is headed clear and he takes responsibility for his poor delivery by yanking down Ayew who threatened to break at pace. Yellow card for his cynicism. 

15 min

Willian takes it and it looks perfect until it whistles past the wrong side of the post in an artful arc. 

13 min

Back come Chelsea at pace and Pulisic, played in after neat work by Kante and Kovacic speeds into the box from the left, dazzles Ward and Tomkins with his flashing feet, and drills a low shot that Guaita devours. Seconds later James is flattened as he brings the ball within 25 yards to shoot. Chelsea free-kick to the right of the D. Emerson and Willian line it up for a left- and right-footer respectively. 

11 min

Palace clear the corner that Abraham leapt to reach but which tickled the top of his hair. Mount comes forward, picking the bones out, and is fouled by Kouyate. The free-kick from the left is rubbish and Cahill comfortably clears. 

9 min

Willian's fancy footwork precedes a dart at Van Aanholt on the outside. He beats him after the stepover and scuds in a low cross that Palace whack clear for a corner. 

7 min 

Abraham shakes his head when a throw isn't given Chelsea's way following an aerial challenge wide on the Chelsea left. Palace give the ball away after two touches and Chelsea come back at pace. Mount, lurking between the lines, takes Emerson's pass, turns and skedaddles towards the box, feeding Pulisic who steps in from the left wing to scuff a right-foot daisycutter about two yards wide of the near post. 

Credit: Mike Hewitt/Getty Images

 

5 min 

Ayew is penalised for a foul when battling Kante for the header at the throw. Chelsea shift it across field for Willian and James to have a run at Van Aanholt but Kouyate helps him out and Palace counter. Kovavcic makes a fine sliding tackle on Townsend who had the opportunity to cross early but decided to dribble towards the box from the Palace right instead. 

3 min

Palace recycle the ball up their right, backwards and forwards until Kouyate chips a long pass up looking for Ayew and Townsend that Tomori heads out for a throw. 

1 min

Palace kick off and chip a long diagonal from right to left that Emerson heads clear. Willian brings it forward and after a quick interchange of passes Kovacic stabs a shot from 20 yards that is turned out to the right. James whips in a cross that Palace bundle behind for a corner, which Van Aanholt heads clear.  

Out come the teams

 

Frank Lampard speaks

It’s a tough match going into the international break. I’ve got a lot of respect for Roy Hodgson and they’re good on the road. It’s going to be tough and we need to be on it.

Roy Hodgson speaks

I’m proud to have 300 Premier League games, it’s not easy to rack up that number. It doesn’t get easier, but in truth it doesn’t get harder. I'm proud to have done it. It’s a good day, but to make it a really good day it’s got to be a good performance for this Crystal Palace team, and hopefully some points to take home to Selhurst Park.

Roy Hodgson speaks

Warhammer!

Call Roy Castle

 

Remembrance Sunday tomorrow

And a minute's silence for the Fallen before kick-off Credit: Yui Mok/PA

 

And now for those of you watching in black and white

Chelsea Arrizabalaga, James, Tomori, Zouma, Emerson, Kante, Kovacic, Willian, Mount, Pulisic, Abraham.
Substitutes  Caballero, Christensen, Azpilicueta, Gilmour, Giroud, Hudson-Odoi, Batshuayi .

Gary Cahill returns to the Bridge Credit:  NEIL HALL/EPA-EFE/REX

Crystal Palace Guaita, Ward, Tomkins, Cahill, van Aanholt, Townsend, Kouyate, Milivojevic, McArthur, Zaha, Ayew.
Substitutes Hennessey, Kelly, Riedewald, Dann, , McCarthy, Schlupp, Benteke.

Referee Mike Dean (Wirral).

Good morning

Palace last won at Stamford Bridge in 2017, a 2-1 victory under Sam Allardyce that dented but did not destroy Chelsea's charge to the title. They meet today, unusually, with both in the top 10, playing well and managers old acquaintances from Roy Hodgson's time managing England at Euro 2012 and the 2014 World Cup, though Frank Lampard was no longer a regular by the latter.

In this morning's papers Lampard says he is very superstitious, claiming: "I walk the dog at certain times and on certain days. I will walk her at a certain time, for a certain route. I take her out in the morning. I go out early before I leave, I take her down to the local coffee shop, get my takeaway coffee, walk around, then go to training.

"I like going to the gym as well - that's another one of my superstitions. I have to do exactly the same amount of time on the bike - 50 minutes - or the exact route that I run. Things like that."

It's all a bit pasteurised compared with the headcases of the past. 

Take Alan Rough, for instance. The Partick Thistle goalkeeper and first-choice for Scotland at the 1978 and 1982 World Cups began by not shaving before games and before long he was wedded to wearing the same old jersey under his official shirt, white socks, though he should have worn red on international duty, always changing at peg No13 and bouncing the ball a set number of times against the dressing room wall before he went out.

Goalkeeper Alan Rough avoided losing his marbles during a game by keeping them inside the goal Credit: Getty

But that was only the start. Once out on the field, a whole new liturgy had to be observed, as he told The Scotsman. “I used to have a hatful of lucky charms to put behind the net,” he said. “There was a scabby tennis ball in there, a thistle keyring, a couple of marbles - and when fans chucked more I'd have to put them in the bunnet, too. I liked to blow my nose a lot during games, and ask the time a lot. And I'd always have seven pieces of Wrigley’s with me: three for each half and another for the last five minutes when things got exciting.” 

There are plenty more examples but we should get on with the team news:

Here's Chelsea's selection: - headline news that N'Golo Kante is back and captain Cesar Azpilicueta is rested:

And here's Crystal Palace's XI with Gary Cahill at the heart of the defence against the club he served with such distinction for seven years: