Chelsea?s poor start to the 2015/16 Barclay?s Premier League season continued as they were beaten by a deserving Crystal Palace at Stamford Bridge. Alan Pardew?s team looked calm and assured on the ball and were incredibly disciplined off it, frustrating a Chelsea side that lacked a killer instinct.
Chelsea played some lovely football at times and their passing in the first half was a sight to behold. They retained possession well and had the better of the opening 45 minutes, with Pedro, Willian and Fabregas all having shots at the Palace goal. Unfortunately, those shots were all either wide, blocked or were aimed straight at goalkeeper Alex McCarthy.
The lack of goalmouth action was clearly getting to Diego Costa, who got into it with Damien Delaney on 21 minutes. A minute-and-a-half later, Willian had a chance when he wasn?t closed down from a short free kick, but his effort went over the bar. Palace began to grow into the game, with Bakary Sako looking dangerous down the left hand side and he forced a save 24 minutes in.
Yohan Cabaye had an excellent opportunity to put Palace ahead before the break but his shot was aimed squarely at Courtois, who didn?t have a great deal to do in the first half. Cabaye really should have done better there. On 39 minutes, Cesar Azpilicueta delivered an inviting ball to the edge of the Palace six yard box, but Costa couldn?t get on the end of it. The first half ended with Nemanja Matic dancing his way into the Palace box but, yet again, his effort was easily collected by McCarthy.
Chelsea had a penalty appeal waved off on 50 minutes when Delaney appeared to bring down Costa. Four minutes later, the ever-dangerous Sako hit one low and hard from outside the box, forcing the Chelsea keeper to shepherd it wide. Yanick Bolasie was introduced straight after (Zaha made way) and he immediately went about trying to terrify the Chelsea defence.
Bolasie provided the assist for Sako?s goal on 65 minutes after making his way into the box and pulling it back to the penalty spot where the Mali international was waiting and hit it right into the centre of the net. Courtois had no chance of saving it and it almost became 2-0 Palace eight minutes later, when Bolasie missed a golden opportunity from only a few yards out after an excellent ball across from Sako.
Radamel Falcao, who has had a tough time of it in English football, pulled one back with a headed effort from seven yards out on the 78th minute. Replayes show that McCartyh was beaten at his near post and really should have done a lot better. Still, Palace fans were smiling again just two minutes later when Joel Ward headed in from the centre of the box after some wonderful play from Bolasie, whose cross was cut back by Sako.
Sako left the pitch three minutes later to a well-deserved standing ovation from the Palace faithful, who it must be said were incredibly vocal throughout. The Blues pressed for an equalizer late on but The Eagles weathered the storm with some courageous defending, seeing out an added five minutes that must have felt like an eternity.
It?s clear that something is still missing for Chelsea, but Mourinho made no excuses after the game, admitting that Palace deserved their result while also ruing the penalty decision that went against them. They played some great football at times but lacked a killer instinct.
Palace, on the other hand, delivered arguably their best performance yet under Pardew. They have added quality to their squad in the transfer window, play as a team and could very well be one of the surprise packages of this season. It takes a special team to give Mourinho?s Chelsea only their second home loss in one hundred games.
Man of the Match: Bakary Sako
Chelsea: 13 Courtois, 02 Ivanovic, 05 Zouma, 24 Cahill Booked, 28 Azpilicueta (Nunes do Nascimento ? 68? ), 04 Fàbregas, 21 Matic (Loftus-Cheek ? 73? ), 17 Pedro, 22 Willian (Falcao ? 66? ), 10 Hazard, 19 Diego Costa
Crystal Palace: 12 McCarthy, 02 Ward, 06 Dann, 27 Delaney, 23 Souaré, 18 McArthur, 07 Cabaye Booked (Ledley ? 82? ), 42 Puncheon, 26 Sako (Lee Chung-yong ? 84? ), 11 Zaha (Bolasie ? 55? ), 21 Wickham