Crystal Palace 1-3 Chelsea: 3 Blues Talking Points

Late goals from Conor Gallagher and Enzo Fernandez secured a 3-1 victory for Chelsea over Crystal Palace at Selhurst Park on Monday, after what seemed like was going to be another disappointing evening. Three Blues talking points to follow.
Crystal Palace v Chelsea FC - Premier League
Crystal Palace v Chelsea FC - Premier League / Julian Finney/GettyImages

Chelsea encountered difficulty breaking down a well-organized Palace side in the first half, as Roy Hodgson’s team predominantly played on the counter-attack, causing numerous problems. Jefferson Lerma's remarkable long-range strike gave Palace the lead at halftime.

Shortly after the break, Chelsea equalized as an unmarked Gallagher finished well. Following a halftime delay to fix referee Michael Oliver's technical equipment, the visitors improved significantly. They secured the win when a rare chance to catch Palace off-guard saw Cole Palmer find Gallagher, who scored his second.

As Palace fans left the stadium, Chelsea added to their lead with Enzo Fernandez calmly converting another late counter. The victory propels Chelsea back into the top half of the Premier League table.

A game of two halves

Monday's match exemplified the classic tale of two halves. Initially, Chelsea dominated possession in areas where Crystal Palace posed no real threat. Despite commanding an impressive 80 percent possession in the first half, they failed to muster a shot on target. However, the Blues underwent a dramatic transformation after halftime.

Conor Gallagher set the tone for the second half by scoring the equalizer just two minutes after the break. His stellar performance included a pass completion rate of over 85 percent and an unwavering intensity that spurred Chelsea out of their first-half lethargy. Gallagher's defensive prowess, winning four defensive duels and making two recoveries, complemented his drive to propel the team forward.

In addition to his defensive contributions, Gallagher showcased his attacking prowess by securing the win with a goal in the 91st minute. Despite swirling rumors of his potential departure from the club, he once again demonstrated why he has been entrusted with the captaincy for much of the campaign. His leadership suited Chelsea's resurgence in the second half, where they created numerous scoring opportunities and ultimately clinched all three points.

Malo Gusto continues to shine

Much like Gallagher, Gusto was one of the Blues’ finer performers, including in that boring first half. Malo Gusto recorded more successful attacking third passes (28/33), successful crosses (3), and successful take-ons (2) than any other player for either Crystal Palace or Chelsea. Additionally, he tallied 7 ball recoveries and picked up an assist for Gallagher’s first goal.

When Reece James sustained an injury prior to Gusto’s arrival at Chelsea, it was a nightmare, and it remains so, as the 24-year-old is undoubtedly an incredible full-back. However, Gusto, who joined Chelsea from Lyon in a ~£30m deal, has admirably filled in for his captain.

Moving forward, the 20-year-old poses a genuine threat, with his crossing proving to be a potent weapon for Mauricio Pochettino‘s side. Once again, it was his delivery into the box that helped Chelsea draw level. Even defensively, there isn’t much cause for concern; the Frenchman appears calm and composed.

In an ideal scenario, James remains fit, and Gusto rotates with him, featuring in cup games. Naturally, you want a player of the England international’s caliber starting every week, especially considering he is also Chelsea's captain. However, given Gusto's recent performances, Chelsea supporters may breathe a bit easier when James is unavailable. Undoubtedly, the former Lyon man has been one of the club’s standout signings under Todd Boehly and Clearlake Capital.

However, due to James’ injury, it has reached a point where CFC are relying heavily on Gusto, as he continues to play full 90-minute matches consistently. There have been instances where the French international has requested to be substituted, which may be attributed to fatigue rather than a lingering injury. One can only hope and we’ll soon find out in the coming hours.

Staying switched on for 90 minutes paid off

The Chels' were in control from start to finish, perhaps not in terms of chance creation, but they dominated possession throughout and kept pressing Palace. In recent performances, Chelsea would often crumble after conceding the first goal and would seem to lose focus, allowing the opposition to dictate play and add further injuries.

However, in this match, Chelsea came out strong in the second half, capitalizing on a brief lapse in the Palace defense. It was former Eagle Gallagher who broke through, leveling the score just two minutes after the restart. Chelsea's next two goals came late in the game, showcasing Poch's side's unwavering concentration, and inability to switching off throughout the match.