Chelsea showed why they should be being spoken about as title contenders after an inspired Alvaro Morata performance leads the Blues to a 3-1 victory against Crystal Palace. The Blues now sit in second just two points behind Manchester City.
Chelsea went into the break 1-0 up thanks to Morata’s opener but Townsend equalized with a crisp finish after a beautiful McArthur pass split the Chelsea defence. With the score at 1-1, Sarri called upon Eden Hazard and it took him less than two minutes to assist Morata for his second. The ball found its way through a congested penalty area to the Spaniard who exquisitely placed his ball past Hennessey’s outstretched left foot in the bottom right hand corner of the net. Not long after, Pedro added a third with a perfectly placed effort after a low cross from Marcos Alonso.
Morata had the chance to pick up his first hat-trick since Chelsea’s away trip to Stoke last September but his scooped effort failed to beat Hennessey in the Palace goal.
Alvaro Morata bursts back to form
There has been a lot of criticism towards Alvaro Morata in the past few months and arguably, this has been deserved. He has not been performing and Olivier Giroud has been slowly pushing him out of the starting XI. Despite this, today he showed just how good he can be and why he should be Chelsea’s number one striker.
His two goals were finishes of the highest quality; one a sharp turn and finish and the other a crisp taken half volley into the bottom corner. They were true strikers finishes, someone with the instinctive nature of a top-quality striker never loses that, and the Spaniard proved that today.
It has been said that in January Chelsea should go looking for a top quality centre forward. Yet do they really need one when they have Morata playing well? Time will tell on that one.
Are Chelsea going under the radar?
All the hype seems to be around Liverpool and Manchester City, and rightly so as both teams are unbelievable and have been flying so far. Yet, no one seems to be talking about Sarri’s men?
Chelsea are unbeaten so far this season, along with Liverpool and City. Yes they don’t have the distraction of the Champions League but they are still playing Thursday and Sunday in Europa League weeks. Sarri and the Blues may not mind flying under the radar with very little pressure on them, but they seem seem to not be getting the praise they deserve. Maybe todays victory will change that.
Hazard continues to be influential
Despite all the good will directed toward Chelsea, it remains true that they are not the same without Eden Hazard on the pitch.
Today, Palace were getting back into the game at 1-1 but when Sarri brought the Belgian on, he completely changed the game. He immediately set up Morata to put Chelsea back into the lead and should have had two assists if the team mate had completed his hat trick. It remains to be seen whether Chelsea can flourish without him as so far they have not had to do so. In January they may look to reinforce this position, but one thing is for certain, with him in the team they are strong title contenders.
Is there reason for concern at Crystal Palace?
Crystal Palace are without a win in their last five games and currently sit 14th in the table, three points above the relegation zone. Whilst they are not expected to beat teams like Chelsea, their next two games are Tottenham and Manchester United so their fortunes may not improve.
Palace have shown their resilience in previous seasons and whilst we are only in November, when it gets to the end of the season all these points matter. Hodgson is a good manager and will more than likely keep Palace up, but with results like these you do have to wonder.
Is Zaha too good for the Eagles?
Zaha had a quiet game today but the naturalized Ivorian must start to wonder whether his future belongs in South London. Sure, when he went to United before it failed but he is a stronger individual now than he was then.
There has been interest in the past from Tottenham across the river and that interest may re-ignite itself if he continues to perform as he has been this season. Whilst one can understand the loyalty he has to the club, at the end of the day he has to put his future first. January will indeed be an interesting month.
Man of the Match: Alvaro Morata
In a match where he scored 2 from 5 shots on target, and should’ve probably scored more, its hard to give it to anyone else. The Spaniard showed why Chelsea spent £70m on him two years ago and if he can maintain this form there is no reason the Blues can’t end the season as Champions.