Three talking points from Chelsea’s win over Crystal Palace

LONDON, ENGLAND - DECEMBER 17: Cesc Fabregas of Chelsea (L) attempts to take the ball past Zeki Fryers of Crystal Palace (R) during the Premier League match between Crystal Palace and Chelsea at Selhurst Park on December 17, 2016 in London, England. (Photo by Clive Rose/Getty Images)
LONDON, ENGLAND - DECEMBER 17: Cesc Fabregas of Chelsea (L) attempts to take the ball past Zeki Fryers of Crystal Palace (R) during the Premier League match between Crystal Palace and Chelsea at Selhurst Park on December 17, 2016 in London, England. (Photo by Clive Rose/Getty Images) /
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(ADRIAN DENNIS/AFP/Getty Images)
(ADRIAN DENNIS/AFP/Getty Images) /

Chelsea still not killing off chances or games

Saturday’s victory was Chelsea’s third consecutive 1-0 win. Since shellacking Everton 5-0 on 5 November, Chelsea have only won one of six games by more than a single goal (the exception being 3-1 over Manchester City).

Yes, the mark of a title contender is the ability to win games 1-0. Chelsea did so on a cold Wednesday in the northeast and a foggy lunch time in London. The Blues have checked plenty of boxes on their way to the top.

But after the Sunderland game, Antonio Conte noted that Chelsea need to develop their killer finish and put games to rest long before the final whistle. Crystal Palace did not stack six or more men behind the ball as West Bromwich Albion and Sunderland did. By opening up their play, they gave Chelsea – as well as themselves – more opportunities to make a go at the net.

Chelsea created plenty of chances to go up 2-0, particularly after Cesc Fabregas came on. Chelsea took seven of their nine second-half shots after Fabregas’ entrance. The Blues had only four in the first half.

N’Golo Kante rifled two strong shots on goal. Eden Hazard danced his way into space, but never found the shooting lane or the final pass to Costa. Chelsea came closest through a Marcos Alonso free kick that banged the crossbar.

Seeing out 1-0 matches is a necessary attribute for a champion. In the middle of a packed December schedule, some level of efficiency is in order compared to the Blues’ 90-minute, full-pitch style of the Everton and Manchester United matches.

But the Blues need to pursue and execute the finishing shot better than they have in recent games. A 1-0 margin is always a set play or deflection away from a disappointing 1-1 final. The win streak will end someday, but hopefully not before the Blues open up a double-digit buffer over second-place.