The Blues' high and intense pressing seemed to force the hosts into mistakes during their build-up, and this was quickly seized upon by the returning Cole Palmer. Chelsea's standout player this season, Palmer capitalized on a wayward pass from Issa Kaboré, confidently converting with a fierce strike across the goal to break the deadlock.
Unfortunately, after the goal, the visitors seemed to ease off the pressure like what we’ve seen in recent matches, committing persistent fouls in dangerous areas that unnecessarily boosted Luton's confidence in the first half. However, Chelsea showcased their clinical edge again, something we haven’t seen often, when Maduake smashed a late effort into the roof of the net, doubling their lead going into halftime.
When a touch of quality was needed, Cole Palmer stepped up. The summer signing received the ball on the counter-attack after a well-placed pass from Nicolas Jackson behind the defense. Palmer's initial ball control left the goalkeeper stranded, and a well-timed body feint ensured he had the space to slot his second into the empty net, providing Chelsea with the necessary breathing room.
In what felt inevitable, Ex-Chelsea midfielder Ross Barkley headed home ten minutes before time, making the score 3-1 and boosting Luton's confidence for the closing stages. Seven minutes later, Elijah Adebayo scored from a rebound, increasing the pressure as the board showed six added minutes at the end. Despite several missed chances, a fortunate Chelsea escaped, and Thiago Silva shaking his head at full-time summed up the story of the last 20 minutes, despite the 3-2 victory.
Cole ‘Cold’ Palmer
Chelsea will reflect on their past selves reacting negatively to their club's acquisition of a Man City outcast for £45m days before the summer transfer window closed, wondering what they were thinking. Cole Palmer has been the Blues' best player this season by a landslide, securing another assist and a brace for himself, making it 14 goal contributions in just 16 appearances in all competitions.
Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola stated that he wanted the 21-year-old to stay with the treble winners, but Palmer sought regular minutes, leading to his move to Chelsea in late August. 'Cold' Palmer has contributed to 12 Premier League goals this season, including eight goals and four assists. Among players aged 21 or under in Europe's top five leagues, only Jude Bellingham has been involved in more goals this term, totaling 15. Certainly not in bad company.
"That's why they call him 'Cold Palmer' innit?"- Noni Madueke via tntsports
Palmer's second goal extending the visitors' lead to three goals to nil with just 20 minutes to go, however, the comfortable margin disappeared in the last frenetic 10 minutes, as Ross Barkley and then Elijah Adebayo scored, providing their supporters with hope for a spectacular comeback. Luton had a goal disallowed due to an offside in the play and scored two legitimate goals due to shocking defending. It took only seven minutes for the newly promoted side to claw their way back to 3-2.
CFC were defending for their lives, and Pochettino was forced to bring on a fifth defender, Alfie Gilchrist, to solidify the defense and secure the victory. The Luton Town supporters made it increasingly more difficult, and props to them for sticking around until the very end. Teams that have traveled to Kenilworth Road, such as Liverpool, didn’t leave with the three points. Other top clubs like Manchester City and Arsenal struggled, proving the Luton crowd to be the driving force for the home side. Nonetheless, it still doesn’t excuse the shambolic defending.
Final Chelsea match of 2023
The Pride of London closes out the year with a nail-biter win, marking the last victory of 2023. CFC fans are expecting much better for 2024, as 2023 witnessed one of the worst Chelsea campaigns in recent memory. CFC had four different managers throughout this odd year, including Graham Potter, Bruno Saltor, Frank Lampard, and now Mauricio Pochettino. To put it into perspective, Chelsea picked up 48 points from 43 games in the Premier League this season, finishing just ten points above the drop zone in the 2022-23 season. In 2023, we've truly been a relegation side. No team in the Premier League has suffered more losses than ours. Across the top five leagues, only Almería, Werder Bremen, and Empoli share this unfortunate distinction.