Chelsea 3 Crystal Palace 0
Saturday 14th August 2021 15:00
The Others: Arsenal, as usual, lowering the bar to the point where it is impossible for everyone else to humiliate themselves. Ben White didn’t look like he was worth £50, let alone fifty million. Also, not nearly ugly and b*stard-like enough to strike the fear of God into attackers. In my mind, centre backs should look like they’ve repeatedly taken a boot to the face in pursuit of a clean sheet. Like Harry Maguire. Back line was a complete shambles, mid-table mediocrity beckons unless they’re going to do some serious business in what’s left of the window. Only had to look at the look of sheer dismay on Kieran Tierney’s face last night to know what the top end of their squad is thinking about their prospects.
You’d think that Ole Gunnar Solksjaer has to deliver at least top four and some kind of cup this season. He’s had long enough to bed in and he’s been backed up by signings. Gary Neville is desperate for them to sign Harry Kane. I’m also desperate to meet a rich, handsome man who wants to marry me and buy me crusty war books whilst acknowledging that he’s only ranked third in bed space allocation behind me and Bertie. Doesn’t mean it’s going to happen. Leeds are Leeds. Don’t think they’ll struggle but if they get anywhere near the European places it will be a really good season for them.
Leicester unsurprisingly beat Wolves. Wonder if they’ve done enough to keep up over the summer with the high spenders. Everton. Going to admit that with no stake in them, a part of me would like to see Rafael Benitez fail and the fall out from this controversial appointment just for the sheer entertainment value. But a solid start with a 3-1 victory over Southampton. Watford/Villa turned into a goal-fest that came down in favour of the home side, and Norwich struggled against the Scouse. I’d have pegged Burnley and Brighton to be last up on Match of the Day, but it was an eventful day all round. Away win for Brighton and even this early in the season that’s an important three away points. Newcastle host West Ham and City visit Sp*rs at the giant toilet bowl (google the aerial photos).
Us: Guessing there were a lot of tired legs after Wednesday. No N’Golo Kante or, of course, Hakim Ziyech. Too soon for Romelu Lukaku too. Probably wandering about the Bridge trying to find an adult sized shirt instead of the one they gave him to wave about on signing. Will credit him with this though: Apparently when asked at the airport if he had anything to declare he said: “Chelsea will win the Premier League.”
Them: Love the gamble taken on Patrick Viera, on youth and freshening things up. Honestly can’t even take a stab at where they’re going to finish up this season. S*it or bust for Palace. That gamble includes letting go of Gary Cahill, booooo. And picking up both Marc Guehi straight up and another of our youngsters (Connor Gallagher) on loan, so good luck to them.
Three minutes in and the ball just ran out for Timo Werner as he chased it down. Start as you mean to go on. A banging ball in from Mason Mount after Mateo Kovacic managed to stay upright, but Dave’s eventual shot was well high in the end. Christian Pulisic somehow managed to get on a twisting header moments later, but the ball went straight into the hands of the keeper. Alonso and his annual George Michael “do” was already sublime, torturing the Palace defence, but there just seemed to be a big hole where a big centre forward should be, waiting to thump it in.
Palace were by no means awful at all, but were merely trying to keep a lid on us, which led to a foul on Mount on 13 and a free kick on the edge of the box. It was on target but punched away.
Standards are high already. 20 minutes in and Trevoh Chalobah and Antonio Rudiger were getting a monumental telling off from Jorginho for not pressing up hard enough. Pretty sure one of them responded with: “nobody is taking you seriously with that hair.” The disparity between fans regarding his season last time out are hilarious. The Italians think he’s nailed on for the Balon d’Or. Large contingent of Chelsea fans respond with “What, that bloke I spent all last season screaming at?”
On the half hour Alonso broke the deadlock with a world class free kick. Up over the wall, down again and squeezed into the near corner. Keeper didn’t even move. Back we came at them again and yet another foul on the edge of the box on the half hour. Alonso fouled again a minute later. He was on fire and they just didn’t have a clue what to do with him. Or anyone else, because then Pulisic was hacked down. They needed a better game plan than this if they wanted back in this game. Palace fans moaning that they were hard done by was amusing when one of their own penalised defenders was pounding the pitch in frustration because he couldn’t do anything with the American.
37 minutes and Werner displayed a first touch that had all the grace of a Panzer tank being driven backwards by a very drunk German comrade. He was trying but, but thus far it wasn’t paying off.
But then if there’s one person you don’t leave hanging about the wing with all the space in the world and nobody paying the slightest bit of attention to him, it’s Mount. And yet. He crossed it in, poor Werner tried, but couldn’t get there before the Keeper spilled it. Luckily for the score line, Pulisic was there waiting to pounce and make it 2-0. We’d dominated the first half, and they had no answer. Was going to need a pretty big turnaround or a f*ck up from us to change this. And that never happens… right?
Not a great deal of change in the opening moments of the second half. 53 minutes and their closest chance to get back on terms yet. Wasn’t quite doing and Rudi sorted it out like a beast then let out a massive roar that gave pretty much every bloke within fifteen yards a boner. If you were palace player it shrivelled up and fell off in terror.
57 minutes and Chalobah gets the ball miles out. Doesn’t look like passing, keeps going, nobody anywhere near him, so on he goes. Then he bangs it in from twenty yards out like it’s the easiest thing in the world. Highly emotional moment for the youngster and everyone else piling in on top of him.
Didn’t think that Palace had been that awful but they’ve just got no answer to being outclassed all over the pitch. How can you criticise when you’ve literally walked this result? Bear in mind that some of these players have had no preseason whatsoever. Bear in mind that we all did this with minimal Kai Havertz, and no Ziyech, Kante, Lukaku at all today. It frustrated me that Werner didn’t make more of his chances, but it’s one game. That we won by a landslide. Ask me again on him in a month. Alonso in particular was phenomenal, and Chalobah didn’t look remotely out of place for a second.
As for Eduoard Mendy, on 63 minutes he was actually required to make a save, albeit from a tame attempt. The away fans, the sight of which was bizarre after nearly two years, were being treated to “you’ve had your day out, now f*ck off home.” And every time Chalobah got the ball, 90% of the ground yelled SHOOOOOOOOOOOOT.
Score line of death for Palace now. Two changes made absolutely no difference at all. For our part, Reece James came on for Dave. This had been utterly drama free, proving that the first hour against Sp*rs in the friendly was not solely about how terrible they were. But we’d dialled it down a notch now and we’re sitting back, which considering half this team isn’t match fit/played two hours of football in the week, I can forgive at three up. It gave Palace a chance to thread some passes together and to their credit they kept at it, but never looked like making a serious dent in the result.
Ref/VARwatch: Didn’t notice either. Which is the way it should be.
Havertz came on with ten to go, to a massive reception, and was almost in straight away. Alonso off for Emerson. LOLS. Has he earned himself a way back or was this his swan song? Joel Ward falling flat on his face 87 minutes and Wilfried Zaha’s face summed up Palace’s afternoon, and by this point we were singing “you’re going down with the Arsenal.” The big challenge will be turning up at that dump in North London next week to face them and doing this again, strides forward please instead of two steps forward one step back in the league this season please. Back this result up and the strength of this squad on paper will begin to look real.