MX23RW : Monday, January 21 12:36:04
Nov 4, 2018 at 4pm UK at ​Stamford Bridge
Attendance: 40,407
Crystal Palace
Morata (32', 65'), Pedro (70')
FT(HT: 1-0)
Townsend (53')

Live Commentary: Chelsea 3-1 Crystal Palace - as it happened

Relive Chelsea's 3-1 win over Crystal Palace as a brace from Alvaro Morata helps Maurizio Sarri's side climb up to second in the Premier League table.
Live Commentary: Chelsea 3-1 Crystal Palace - as it happened
© Reuters

Chelsea moved up to second in the Premier League table and extended their unbeaten start to the season to 11 games courtesy of a 3-1 win over Crystal Palace at Stamford Bridge this afternoon.

Alvaro Morata gave Chelsea the lead on two occasions to continue his recent good form in front of goal, with Andros Townsend restoring parity for Palace early in the second half.

Pedro netted Chelsea's third to take the game beyond the visitors, though, as Maurizio Sarri equalled Frank Clark's record of staying unbeaten for his first 11 Premier League games as a manager.

Find out how all of the action unfolded courtesy of our minute-by-minute updates below.

3pmGood afternoon! Thank you very much for joining Sports Mole for today's Premier League clash between Chelsea and Crystal Palace!

These two sides come into this London derby in contrasting form, with Chelsea looking to extend their unbeaten start and Palace looking to end a winless run. This has been a close-run fixture in recent years too, so we are all set for an intriguing contest this afternoon!

Let's start with a look at the team news...

3.02pmCHELSEA STARTING XI: Kepa; Azpilicueta, Rudiger, Luiz, Alonso; Kante, Jorginho, Barkley; Pedro, Morata, Willian

3.02pmCHELSEA SUBS: Caballero, Cahill, Zappacosta, Fabregas, Kovacic, Loftus-Cheek, Hazard

3.04pmCRYSTAL PALACE STARTING XI: Hennessey; Wan-Bissaka, Tomkins, Sakho, Van Aanholt; Milivojevic, Meyer, McArthur, Kouyate; Townsend, Zaha

3.04pmCRYSTAL PALACE SUBS: Guaita, Kelly, Schlupp, Riedewald, Puncheon, Sorloth, Ayew

3.06pmWhat can we make of those two sides, then?

Well, we'll start with the hosts and the headline news from their camp is that Eden Hazard only makes the bench for this afternoon's match, having been struggling with a back injury of late.

Hazard did return to training earlier this week, but Sarri revealed in his pre-match press conference that the Belgian is not yet ready to play for a full 90 minutes. Hazard is still the Premier League's joint-top scorer this season despite missing his side's last three games, but he only has one goal in 10 Premier League appearances against Palace.

Chelsea's Eden Hazard arrives for their game with Huddersfield Town on August 11, 2018© Reuters

3.08pmHazard is expected to come on either at half time or early in the second half, but for now it is the same front three which started against Burnley last weekend as Pedro joins Morata and Willian in attack.

Morata has begun to find his shooting boots for Chelsea now and, with Giroud still sidelined, the Spaniard gets another chance to improve his tally this afternoon. He was on the scoresheet against Burnley, as was Willian, who also played against Derby in midweek.

3.10pmPlenty of other players have also stepped up in the absence of Hazard, and none more so than Ross Barkley, who has scored three and assisted three in his last three Premier League games for the club.

The midfielder could become only the third Englishman to score in four successive Premier League games for Chelsea, joining Frank Lampard and Mark Stein in that club having been selected ahead of Fabregas, Kovacic and former Palace loanee Loftus-Cheek in complete the trio today.

3.12pmIndeed, it is an unchanged starting XI to the one which impressed so much against Burnley at Turf Moor last weekend, with the back four of Azpilicueta, Rudiger, Luiz and Alonso continuing too.

There are eight changes from the midweek EFL Cup win over Derby, though, with Kante, Morata and Willian the only three players to keep their places from that five-goal thriller.

3.14pmAs for Palace, their major news is that Wilfried Zaha is passed fit to start this match, as it was expected he would be.

The difference between Palace's results with and without their star man are remarkable, so it is a huge boost for them to have the Ivorian available following a shoulder injury which ruled him out of the midweek EFL Cup defeat to Middlesbrough.

Crystal Palace winger Wilfried Zaha celebrates after scoring during his side's Premier League clash with Fulham on August 11, 2018© Reuters

3.16pmRoy Hodgson has favoured a 4-4-2 system in recent weeks and, if that is the case, then it looks as though Andros Townsend could join Zaha in the front two - a very pacey and potentially dangerous unit on the counter-attack.

However, there is also the possibility that Palace will leave Zaha up front on his own and utilise Townsend in his more familiar wide position in order to give them more protection against Chelsea's attacking full-backs.

3.18pmHodgson makes just one change from the team which started against Arsenal last weekend for this one, with Ayew dropping to the bench and Max Meyer coming in in his place.

Like Chelsea, though, there are eight changes made from their EFL Cup duties in midweek with Wan-Bissaka, Townsend and Meyer the only players to retain their places from the defeat to Boro.

3.20pmOne thing Chelsea will take extra care to avoid doing today is giving away a penalty, as Luka Milivojevic has been deadly from the spot over the past season or so - despite missing one recently.

His two penalties against Arsenal means that he has now scored nine in the Premier League since the start of last season, which is alone more than any of the other 22 clubs competing in the top flight during that time have scored.

3.22pmThere are players capable of doing damage to Chelsea's title aspirations today, though, but the hosts will still go into the match as firm favourites given how quickly they have taken to life under Maurizio Sarri.

It doesn't look like top spot will be within their grasp today as Man City are already 3-0 up against Southampton after only 20 minutes, but Chelsea would move second with a win today - above Liverpool on goal difference following their draw with Arsenal yesterday.

3.24pmThe Blues are one of three teams still yet to lose in the Premier League this season, and it would take a major shock for that to change now in this gameweek with City leading so comfortably and Liverpool having already played and avoided defeat.

For their part, Chelsea are looking to begin a top-flight campaign with an 11-match unbeaten streak for only the third time in their history, and on both previous occasions they have gone on to win the title - in 2005-06 and 2014-15.

3.26pmThere is an even more notable slice of history on the line for Maurizio Sarri today as he looks to equal the Premier League record for longest unbeaten streak as a new manager in the competition.

Sarri's tally of 10 games is already two better than the likes of Jose Mourinho and Luiz Felipe Scolari managed, and a win or draw today would see him draw level with Frank Clark's record of 11 - set as Nottingham Forest boss in 1994.

Chelsea manager Maurizio Sarri has a laugh during his presser on October 19, 2018© Reuters

3.28pmChelsea have certainly taken to life under the Italian, then, and in all competitions their current unbeaten run stands at 15 games - including 12 wins - since their Community Shield defeat at the hands of Man City in August.

The Blues were not included in many discussions about title contenders before the campaign began, but they have established themselves as genuine challengers over the first 10 games and they appear to be enjoying their football again too.

3.30pmThere has been a slight blip in terms of league form recently, with Chelsea drawing three of their last five such outings, and a victory today would mark back-to-back top-flight wins for the first time since mid-September.

However, they returned to winning ways in pretty emphatic fashion last time out in the Premier League when they ran out 4-0 winners over Burnley at Turf Moor - even without their star man Eden Hazard.

3.32pmThings were less straightforward in midweek when club legend Frank Lampard brought his Derby side to town, with Chelsea needing a few strokes of luck to progress into the EFL Cup quarter-finals - including two own goals going their way and Derby hitting the inside of the post late on.

That win did make it 11 home games without defeat across all competitions, though, which is a run which stretches back to April 1.

Derby County players react after Richard Keogh scores an own goal against Chelsea on October 31, 2018© Reuters

3.34pmThere may be some concern about Chelsea's defensive record, though, with just one clean sheet from their last six home outings - both in all competitions and in the Premier League alone.

The Blues have drawn their last two Premier League home games too - against Liverpool and Manchester United - and should they fail to win today then it would be the first time since May 2016 that they have gone three Premier League home games without a victory.

An interesting statistic from the other end of the field shows how Chelsea are more reliant on English players too, with four of their last eight Premier League goals being scored by Englishmen - the same number as they provided in their previous 100 Premier League goals.

3.36pmPalace would take goals from players of any nationality now, with Hodgson's side having struggled to put the ball in the back of the net often enough so far this season.

Indeed, only Huddersfield have scored fewer than the Eagles in the top flight, while last weekend's 2-2 draw with Arsenal was the first time all season that they had scored in front of their own fans.

3.38pmFive of Palace's seven Premier League goals this term have come on the road, and across all competitions it is away games which have provided their best moments so far - so they may actually be happy to be making the trip across London.

All four of their wins in all competitions - including both of their two Premier League victories - have come on their travels.

3.40pmOne of those victories saw them beat Fulham on the opening day of the season, and should the Eagles pull off a shock today then it would be the first time that they have won two away London derbies in a single Premier League campaign since 1997-98, when they won at Wimbledon and Tottenham.

However, even their away form has seemingly deserted them in recent weeks, with three defeats in a row on the road across all competitions. Another today would make it four on the bounce for the first time since a run of nine almost exactly a year ago.

A despairing Roy Hodgson in charge of Crystal Palace on October 6, 2018© Reuters

3.42pmThe most recent of those defeats came against Championship opposition in the EFL Cup, with Middlesbrough running out 1-0 winners at the Riverside on Wednesday night.

In addition to knocking them out of the competition in the third round, the result also made it four losses and no wins from their last five outings across all competitions, leaving them in growing need of a positive result.

3.44pmPalace fans may remember that they faced Chelsea in their eighth match of last season, though, with the Eagles having lost all seven of their games up to that point with scoring a single goal - the worst start to a season in Premier League history.

Palace went on to stun Chelsea with a 2-1 win which provided the first points and goals of both the season and Hodgson's reign, and they could do with a similar lift today - particularly as they are in the midst of a difficult run of fixtures which sees them face four of last season's top six in succession. After Arsenal last week and Chelsea this, Palace take on Spurs and Manchester United in their next two games.

3.46pmThe Eagles did manage to end a three-game losing streak against Arsenal last weekend, though, and it was a game Hodgson believes that his side could have won too.

Palace needed a couple of penalties to earn the draw, though, including one late one having initially taken the lead against Unai Emery's in-form side. The result in isolation was a decent one, but it is still only two points from the last 15 on offer in the Premier League now.

3.48pmThat run of form has seen Palace slip down to 14th place in the Premier League table, just three points clear of the relegation zone after yesterday's results.

Indeed, in addition to being winless in their last five league games, Palace have also only managed one win from their nine since the opening day of the season, and Hodgson will know that a serious improvement is needed if they are to avoid another relegation scrap this term.

3.50pmPREDICTION: Right, we are 10 minutes away from kickoff at Stamford Bridge, which means that it is time for a prediction!

It is hard to see past a Chelsea win in this game given the form of both teams heading into the match. Palace traditionally have not made it easy for Chelsea in this fixture, but Sarri's side are flying and should run out fairly comfortable winners on this occasion.

SPORTS MOLE SAYS: Chelsea 3-1 Crystal Palace

3.52pmPalace have actually won two of their last three Premier League meetings with Chelsea, which is as many as they had managed in their first 15 against them in the competition - during which time they lost 11.

None of the last 14 Premier League meetings have finished as a draw, with Chelsea winning 10 to Palace's four in that time, but you can bet that Palace would take a draw today.

3.54pmPalace have also won two of their last three league visits to Stamford Bridge, so they know what it takes to come away with all three points from this fixture.

The Eagles had only won one of their previous 18 league games at the stadium before the recent improvement, although they were on the losing side in their most recent visit when Chelsea ran out 2-1 winners in March.

3.56pmFour of the last six meetings have now finished 2-1 - including Palace's victory over the Blues at Selhurst Park last October - and most of the games between these two sides have at least been close in recent years.

Indeed, of the 10 matches since Palace were promoted back into the Premier League, nine of them have been decided by just one goal.

3.58pmThe players are out and we're almost ready to get going here. Let's have a quick reminder of the team news before we do get started...

CHELSEA STARTING XI: Kepa; Azpilicueta, Rudiger, Luiz, Alonso; Kante, Jorginho, Barkley; Pedro, Morata, Willian

CRYSTAL PALACE STARTING XI: Hennessey; Wan-Bissaka, Tomkins, Sakho, Van Aanholt; Milivojevic, Meyer, McArthur, Kouyate; Townsend, Zaha

1 minKICKOFF:  Here we go, then! Chelsea get us underway at Stamford Bridge!

1 minVery bright start from Palace as they immediately get on the front foot. Meyer dribbles his way into the area but his cut-back only finds blue shirts, while a cross moments later is chested back to the keeper by a cool Alonso.

2 minCHANCE!  Chelsea respond with an early chance of their own as Willian's low cross into the box is met by Pedro's run to the near post, but the Spaniard cannot get the desired contact on the ball.

3 minEnd-to-end stuff at the start of this match! Palace come forward again as Zaha dribbles into the box, but he cannot squeeze his cross/shot into the box.

5 minThis has been a really positive start from Palace, who may have taken encouragement from Derby's approach in midweek. Chelsea have been slow to get going here.

7 minUPDATE: They are now back underway for the second half at the Etihad Stadium, where Man City now lead Southampton 4-1. They will be heading back to the top of the table today, barring a remarkable turn of events.

8 minNervy moment for Tomkins as he swipes at Barkley's low ball into the box and slices it towards goal. He is fortunate that it bounces kindly into the arms of Hennessey.

10 minBetter from Chelsea now as they begin to see more and more of the ball. The latest spell of possession comes to an end as Luiz puts a pass out of play, but the hosts are beginning are to gain control over this one now.

12 minWillian dips and jinks inside and advances into the area before trying to slip a clever pass into Alonso, but the full-back is not on the same page and it is mopped up by the Palace defence.

14 minPalace look to spring a quick counter-attack as Van Aanholt steals the ball before exchanges passes with Zaha, who releases the Dutchman down the left. However, it all happens so quickly that there are no Palace players up in support when Van Aanholt puts a low pass into the box.

16 minPalace made a quick start to this match, but since then they have very much been on the back foot. Chelsea have enjoyed 72% possession in the opening 15 minutes or so.

18 minChelsea have swarmed all over Zaha whenever he has been on the ball so far. There are four blue shirts all quick to get around the Palace dangerman and he has not been able to have much of an impact on the game so far as a result of that.

20 minCHANCE!  This is a decent chance by the standards of the opening 20 minutes as Alonso gives the ball away with a header. Zaha is released down the right and cuts the ball back for Meyer on the edge of the box, but his curling effort flies off target when he should have done better.

21 minMore good play from Palace as Van Aanholt feeds the ball in to Zaha, who in turn gets it round the corner for Meyer. Luiz makes a crucial interception from his resulting cross, though.

23 minChelsea are finding Palace a tough nut to crack at the moment. The visitors are keeping their shape really well and then springing counter-attacks whenever they get the chance.

25 minUPDATE: Man City have a fifth against Southampton, with Raheem Sterling getting his second of the game.

27 minAlert goalkeeping from Kepa as he comes charging out of his area to mop up a through-ball which Zaha was interested in.

28 minAzpilicueta swings a dangerous cross into the box and again Tomkins is unable to cut it out, but the flag is then raised against Morata.

30 minA quick corner routine from Chelsea sees the ball played short and then back to Willian, whose low cross is well cut out and put behind for another corner.

31 minChelsea's pressure is beginning to grow now! Willian picks the ball up on the right channel and cuts inside before letting fly, but his effort is blocked.


32 minGOAL!  Chelsea do get the breakthrough just past the half-hour mark as their spell of pressure results in the opening goal!

Pedro's first cross is cut out by Tomkins, but his clearance only goes as far as the Spaniard again. Pedro then plays it back into the middle for Morata, who takes a touch before firing the ball past Hennessey on the turn. Smart finish from the striker!

Chelsea striker Alvaro Morata celebrates scoring the opening during his side's Premier League clash with Crystal Palace on November 4, 2018© Reuters

34 minRudiger tries his luck from a good 35 yards out, but sees his effort blocked by the first man. Chelsea are in complete control of this match right now, though.

35 minDISALLOWED GOAL!  Chelsea have the ball in the back of the net again, but the flag is raised! Willian knocks the ball down to Pedro, whose scuffed finish falls back into the path of Willian to hammer home from close range. It looks offside, but the replay shows that it was much closer than it seemed! Just about the right decision, though.

37 minBarkley will not want to see this one again! Morata tees the in-form Englishman up, but he gets his shot all wrong and sends it a long, long way off target.

39 minHalf a chance for Chelsea as Willian floats a free kick to the right side of the area, where Alonso is waiting to nod it back inside. Morata helps it on its way, but can only lift his header over the crossbar.

41 min

43 minCrystal Palace will be hoping to just hold out until half time without any further damage right now. They started well, but have been second best for the vast majority of this first half.

45 minThere will be one minute of added time at the end of this first half.


4.56pmChelsea go into the break with the lead, then, and while chances have not exactly been free flowing, the hosts are well deserving of their lead.

Sarri's side were the better team for the vast majority of the opening 45 minutes, dominating possession and creating the better chances.

4.58pmThe only goal of the game arrived just past the half-hour mark when Morata fired a half-volley past the keeper from close range.

Palace had the chance to clear the danger before that, but they could only get it as far as Pedro, whose second cross into the box was collected by Morata. The Spanish striker's first touch saw the ball pop up for him and he then fired it instinctively past the keeper.

5pmChelsea have also had a goal disallowed when Willian slotted his finish past Hennessey, only to be denied by the offside flag.

It looked offside in normal time and certainly would have looked offside to the assistant due to the position of the players, but the replay shows that it was probably level.

5.02pmPalace have shown one or two signs of being able to get themselves back into this match, but to do that they need to find a way to get their dangerous players in more space.

The likes of Zaha have had very little to work with so far, with Chelsea doing a brilliant job of swarming around the attacker and quickly winning the ball back.

46 minKICKOFF:  Crystal Palace get us back underway at Stamford Bridge!

48 minChelsea have the chance to break as Kante brings the ball forward before working it out to Pedro, whose low cross into the box is well intercepted.

50 minChelsea have quickly reassumed control over the possession in the opening stages of this second half, but they will feel a lot more comfortable with a second goal under their belt too. Palace are always dangerous with that pace on the counter.

52 minIt will be interested to see if - and when - Chelsea will bring on Hazard during this second half. Sarri may feel that it would be better not to use him at all if he can help it, or he might want to hand him some minutes in order to aid his recovery.


53 minGOAL!  It looks like Chelsea may need Hazard after all! Palace level things up out of nothing, and that was always the danger for Chelsea!

McArthur is the creator with a lovely pass through for Townsend to race on to, and the Palace man keeps his composure to drill a pinpoint finish into the bottom corner!

Game on!

Andros Townsend celebrates his equaliser during the Premier League game between Chelsea and Crystal Palace on November 4, 2018© Reuters

55 minPalace needed to disrupt the rhythm of this game, and there is no better way to do that than with a goal! It is the Eagles' first shot on target, but Chelsea have also only had one of their own.

57 minIt looks like a big chance for Chelsea as Azpilicueta swings a cross into the box for Morata, who is unmarked but sees his header well saved by Hennessey. The offside flag is raised against the striker anyway, though.

58 minSuddenly it is Palace who are swarming all over the Chelsea players! That goal has really injected some belief into the visitors.

60 minZaha in full flight bursts down the left flank before a low cross into the box is cut out. The pressure does not relent, though, and Meyer's own low pass into the middle is collected by Kepa shortly afterwards.

62 minLess than half an hour remaining in this match now and it is a lot more finely poised at this stage than it was 10 minutes ago. Both teams now look capable of going on to get a winner now!

63 minCHANCE!  Two big chances for Luiz in quick succession! Willian's first free kick picks out Luiz completely unmarked inside the box and he draws a fine save from Hennessey, and the Brazilian's combine again from the resulting corner but this time Luiz's header goes well over.

64 minCHELSEA SUBS: Double change for Chelsea, and it is Eden Hazard time! The Belgian comes on alongside Mateo Kovacic, while Willian and Barkley make way.


65 minGOAL!  Chelsea regain the lead, and it is Morata again!

It is dreadful defending from Palace as Hazard's free kick is allowed to travel all the way to Morata at the back post. The striker takes it down on his thigh before firing a really good finish into the bottom far corner from a tight angle.

67 minHere is the Palace goal which at least momentarily made more of a game of this match...

69 minThis has been the most common scoreline for this fixture in recent years, but we may not have seen the last of the goals this afternoon. Chelsea are looking dangerous again now.


70 minGOAL!  Chelsea do have their third goal, and surely now it is game over at Stamford Bridge?

Alonso's low cross from the left flank is towards Morata, but he leaves it from Pedro, who is coming on to the ball from deep. The Spaniard applies a confident first-time finish, and Palace now have a long way back in this one!

72 minCRYSTAL PALACE SUB: Change for the visitors here as Jordan Ayew replaces Meyer.

74 minThat five-minute double really has changed the mood inside Stamford Bridge. It was looking awkward for Chelsea after Palace's equaliser, but they are cruising here now.

76 minA beauty of a stat this one...

77 minCHANCE!  Half a chance for Palace as Townsend feeds the ball to Milivojevic, who in turn plays it into Van Aanholt. The full-back cuts inside, but then slices his right-footed finish high and well wide of the target.

79 minSHOT!  Good play from Kovacic as he cuts inside before getting his shot away, but he drags his effort wide of the target.

80 minCHELSEA SUB: Chelsea make their third and final change as Cesc Fabregas replaces Jorginho.

81 minCRYSTAL PALACE SUB: Palace also make a change as Jeffrey Schlupp comes on for McArthur.

83 minHere is that Pedro goal which looks to have taken the game beyond Palace...

85 minJust five minutes remaining now and it does not look like Palace will be able to get anything out of this game. Chelsea have been in complete control since those two quick goals.

86 minYELLOW CARD!  Milivojevic picks up a late yellow card for a trip on Fabregas.

88 minChelsea are heading second in the table, then, and it will be history for Maurizio Sarri who is set to go his first 11 Premier League games without defeat

89 minCrucial touch from Milivojevic to just get a toe to the ball before Morata, who is chasing his hat-trick here.

90+1 minThere will be three minutes of added time at the end of this match.

90+3 minCHANCE!  Big chance for Morata to get his hat-trick! Chelsea break quickly and Hazard sends Morata clean through on goal, but he tries to chip Hennessey and the keeper stands up before plucking the effort out of the air.


5.58pmIt looked a little hit nervy for Chelsea at one stage of that second half, but in the end they run out fairly comfortable winners here at Stamford Bridge, moving up to second in the table in the process.

A brace for Alvaro Moara either side of Andros Townsend's equaliser put Chelsea ahead, and then Pedro took the game beyond the visitors with a third goal 20 minutes from time. It is a result which means that Maurizio Sarri has now remained unbeaten in his first 11 Premier League games as manager - a joint-record for the Premier League.

6pmRight, that is all we have time for this evening!

Thank you very much for joining Sports Mole for today's match as Chelsea beat Crystal Palace to leapfrog Liverpool into second place in the Premier League table. I will leave you with our match report, and be sure to stick around for reaction too.

From me, though, it is goodbye for now!

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Chelsea's Eden Hazard arrives for their game with Huddersfield Town on August 11, 2018
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