Chelsea vs Crystal Palace result: Five things we learned as European champions stroll to opening win

Chelsea 3-0 Crystal Palace: Goals from Alonso, Pulisic and a memorable strike from debutant Chalobah sealed a comfortable win for Tuchel’s side

Jamie Braidwood
Saturday 14 August 2021 17:01
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European champions Chelsea opened their Premier League campaign with a routine 3-0 win over Crystal Palace, who were woeful in Patrick Viera’s first game in charge.

Marcos Alonso curled in a sublime opener from a direct free kick in the 27th minute before Christian Pulisic turned in a rebound from close range to double Chelsea’s lead before half time.

Crystal Palace did not threaten in the first half with Edouard Mendy untroubled and Trevoh Chalobah scored a stunning goal on his Premier League debut to add a third for the hosts before the hour, just as Viera’s side were starting to grow into the game.

Chelsea will face a trip to rivals Arsenal in their next match while Crystal Palace also face a London derby against newly-promoted Brentford.

Here are five things we learned

Chelsea return to Stamford Bridge with new swagger to launch title bid

Chelsea produced a performance worthy of European champions as they opened their Premier League campaign with a comfortable win against Crystal Palace. Now, like it was for Liverpool after winning the Champions League in 2019, Thomas Tuchel’s side look like they have the confidence and belief to mount a serious title challenge.

The signing of Romelu Lukaku only strengthens that idea and the thought of the Belgian striker at the head of this team is a frightening prospect for the rest of the league. Chelsea were not challenged at all by Palace at Stamford Bridge and the Blues played the majority of the second half with their feet up, but their defensive solidity and strength in midfield were apparent here.

So too was the movement of their attackers, even if the finishing touch was not always there. But Lukaku is set to provide that, and he will only benefit from the runs of a confident-looking Timo Werner and the interplay of Mason Mount. Christian Pulisic opened his account for the season, which was just what the American needed due to the competition for places at Stamford Bridge.

After winning the Super Cup after 120 minutes in midweek, a routine win was just what was required for the Blues on the opening weekend of the league season, especially with the run of games they have to come. Matches against Arsenal and Liverpool will come before the first international break of the season and with Lukaku yet to come into this side, Chelsea look in good shape for an early run.

New-look Crystal Palace disappoint in Viera’s first match

After four seasons of Roy Hodgson and a summer of upheaval, Patrick Viera's first match in charge of Crystal Palace was always going to be a tough assignment - and that’s before you factor in that it was away to the European champions.

However, that should not excuse what was a woeful first performance of the season from the Eagles. Viera’s side were completely outplayed by Chelsea at Stamford Bridge and lacked any semblance of creativity or ambition in an insipid showing.

Patrick Viera’s side were poor in the Frenchman’s first game in charge

Palace did not have a single shot in the first half as Chelsea took a 2-0 lead into the break, with Wilfried Zaha often cutting an isolated figure. Palace’s star forward had the fewest touches of anyone in the first 45 minutes. It took until the 53rd minute for Palace to play Zaha through on goal, but Antonio Rudiger was on hand to block the shot.

This was certainly not the fresh start that Palace fans were looking for, although it should be stressed that is very early to jump to any conclusions. Defender Marc Guehi looked solid on his debut, after arriving from Chelsea earlier this summer, while there were signs of a more expansive 4-3-3 system.

Viera’s side should have more of an opportunity to show what they can do in possession at home to Brentford next weekend, although Thomas Frank’s side will be brimming in confidence following their opening win against Arsenal.

Trevoh Chalobah completes dream debut with stunning goal

Chelsea may have just completed a £90m transfer to bring Romelu Lukaku back to Stamford Bridge, but against Crystal Palace Trevoh Chalobah showed that there remains room for academy graduates to break into Tuchel’s Champions League winning side. Chalobah’s stunning strike and emotional celebration was arguably the moment of the afternoon as Chelsea secured their opening win.

He will have more testing afternoons defensively - in fact, it would be surprising if this wasn’t the most straight-forward display of his career so far - but Chalobah marked his Premier League debut with an outstanding performance, impressing long before his 25-yard strike hit the back of the net.

The 22-year-old kept his spot ahead of Kurt Zouma and Thiago Silva in Chelsea’s line-up following an impressive 120 minutes against Villarreal in the Super Cup on Wednesday, and while he was not challenged defensively here, his passing ability from the right side of the Blues’ back three stood out.

Trevoh Chalobah collapsed to his knees after scoring on his Premier League debut

Chelsea have been linked with a move for Sevilla’s Jules Kounde so far this summer, with the young France international tipped to fill Tuchel’s right centre back spot in the long term. Chelsea have yet to submit a bid for the defender, though, if they do not pursue a move for the 22-year-old, it could be because Chalobah has taken his chance and proved his worth. He certainly can’t have done much more over the past few weeks.

Chelsea’s Euro stars shine despite short break

It is remarkable that after a 70 game season for club and country last campaign, Mason Mount was back in Chelsea’s starting line-up and playing a key role for the Blues on their opening match of the Premier League season.

Mount, like many of those involved in the latter stages of the Euros, made a late return to training after a shortened summer break, but the 22-year-old already looked close to his best as Chelsea strolled to an opening win at Stamford Bridge.

The midfielder’s movement between the lines helped his side progress up the pitch and his touch was exceptional. Praise must be given too to Jorginho, who also played in the Euro 2020 final, and the midfielder played with the confidence of a player who won a Champions League-European Championships double last season. The Italian, donning a bright new bleach blond hairstyle, ran the show with his passing as he continued his superb form shown for club and country at the end of the last campaign.

Marcos Alonso continues to fight for his place

Despite being linked with a move away from Stamford Bridge for much of the summer, Marcos Alonso was handed his second start of the week as he retained his spot on Chelsea’s left wing in place of Ben Chilwell.

After playing 120 minutes against Villarreal on Wednesday, Alonso was again heavily involved against Crystal Palace with much of Chelsea’s play coming down his left side. He looked to combine with Christian Pulisic and Timo Werner, who often drifted wide, and scored Chelsea’s opener with a well-placed free kick into the top right corner.

With Emerson Palmieri joining Chilwell on Chelsea’s bench, it would seem that Thomas Tuchel has a surplus of options in that department, which is why Alonso has been linked with a move away. The Spaniard is fighting for his place, however, and is reminding Tuchel of why he remains a valuable option.

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