Chelsea got back to winning ways in the Premier League with a comfortable 4-1 win at Crystal Palace.
Having suffered a shock 5-2 loss to West Brom last week, Chelsea got themselves off to a rapid start at Selhurst Park, Kai Havertz coolly stroking home from a narrow angle after just eight minutes, the Blues capitalising after catching Palace winger Eberechi Eve in possession high up the field.
Havertz was once again involved as the visitors made it two just two minutes later, the German playing a give-and-go with Ben Chilwell down the left, receiving the ball back inside the area before cutting it back to Christian Pulisic who unleashed a venomous first-time strike into the roof of the net.
It was a totally dominant performance from the Blues who extended their lead just before the half-hour mark, a Mason Mount free-kick from the left being despatched by the head of Kurt Zouma, the Frenchman netting his fifth Premier League goal of the season.
Most goals scored by a defender in the Premier League this season:
☉ Kurt Zouma (5)
☉ John Stones (4)
☉ Lewis Dunk (4)
Goalscoring centre-backs. pic.twitter.com/5JBB3RrBFB
— Squawka Football (@Squawka) April 10, 2021
Crystal Palace struggled to string two passes together for the first hour as Thomas Tuchel’s side pressed the hosts with plenty of intent all over the pitch, the west London side creating chances at will.
Palace did, however, manage to pull a goal back in the 63rd minute after they finally produced a bit of quality, substitute Jeffrey Schlupp putting in a teasing cross from the left which was duly headed home by Christian Benteke, the Belgian striker netting with the Eagles first, and only attempt of the entire game.
Chelsea restored their three-goal advantage with 13 minutes to play, Mason Mount feeding the ball into Reece James down the right before the right-back delivered a low cross across the box, USA international Pulisic meeting it at the back post to thump home his second.
The result moves Chelsea back into the top four following Liverpool’s win earlier in the day, and speaking afterwards, Thomas Tuchel was delighted with his side’s improved attitude and hunger compared to last week’s capitulation against West Brom.
“The first half an hour was excellent,” he told Sky Sports. “We were very hungry, very aggressive and got a lot of recoveries in the final third. It was a deserved lead. After 35 minutes we dropped a little in position and got a little bit sloppy. We continued like this a little in the second half but it was a good reaction after their goal. We created a lot of chances and didn’t concede any big chances.
“Clearly we had many chances today. The guys were hungry and creative. We had a lot of good runs and good movement. We put pressure on ourselves to have the right response. It was a step in the right direction.
6 – Chelsea are yet to lose on the road under Thomas Tuchel in the Premier League (P6 W4 D2) – the only other Blues manager to avoid defeat in his first six away games in the competition was Felipe Scolari (unbeaten in first 10). Momentum. pic.twitter.com/0ajbTahUeS
— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) April 10, 2021
“Everything was bad against West Brom. The result was horrible but the stats were not as bad. Today we were very hungry, full of confidence and wanted to play a very aggressive game in terms of high recoveries. We were totally focused. It was good with the attitude today. It’s a part of our DNA to be aggressive and should be. We showed that today.
“Of course I came to England for the targets which was to finish in the top four. We have our own way to go. We need results continually. We had a set-back last week but it is not the moment to look at other teams all the time.
“We are in the middle of the race. It’s the target to finish there but it will be tough until the last end.”
Kai Havertz put in one of his better performances in a Chelsea shirt since his £72 million summer move from Bayer Leverkusen, but Tuchel pointed out that the 21-year-old could have finished the game with even better stats after missing a couple of decent opportunities.
“I am not disappointed [with him] but he could have actually scored more. He had two big chances to finish the game off. This is the way. He has absolute quality. He needs to show his quality and that is the challenge for him.”
Next up for Chelsea is the second leg of their Champions League quarter final against Porto.