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Six takeaways from Crystal Palace’s 1-0 defeat at Chelsea – January reinforcements urgently needed as Guaita shows class is permanent

A Kai Havertz header in the 64th minute secured all three points for Graham Potter’s Chelsea against Crystal Palace.

Here are Adam Sells’ takeaways from Stamford Bridge:


Having lost 11 games in a row to Chelsea in all competitions, this was Palace’s best chance in some time to upset the odds. 

They went up against a depleted home side that had only won once in nine matches, though many in west London may have seen the fixture as the perfect opportunity to stop the rot.

The Stamford Bridge crowd were pensive and Palace had their moments, registering five attempts on target – exactly the same as the home side. However, they were unable to find a way through.

Eleven wins against Palace in a row became 12 for Chelsea, who held on despite the Eagles’ late rally.

Chelsea v Crystal Palace Premier League, Stamford Bridge, 15 January 2023
Picture : Keith Gillard


The difficulty in scoring goals is really starting to be a concern.

The visitors failed to register on the scoresheet for the eighth time in 18 matches, the 1-0 defeat at the Bridge being the fourth time in the past five games.

Patrick Vieira shuffled his attacking options again, opting to play talisman Wilfried Zaha through the middle, with Eberechi Eze on the left, Michael Olise as the number 10 and Jordan Ayew on the right-hand side.

Vieira’s desire to play Zaha through the middle, given the lack of success in recent matches, notably at Nottingham Forest and at home to Fulham, is questionable.

Given his selection today, the role would surely best suit Jordan Ayew, allowing Zaha, his best ball carrier, to receive possession on the front foot.

Chelsea v Crystal Palace Premier League, Stamford Bridge, 15 January 2023
Picture : Keith Gillard

Palace’s only goals in the five games came at lowly Bournemouth from two set-plays, with Ayew leading the line and Eze occupying the central creative role in behind.

You must go back two months and six Premier League matches for the last time Vieira’s men scored in a goal in open play – Michael Olise’s late deflected shot in the 2-1 away win at West Ham United on November 6.

With the likes of Zaha, Olise, Eze and Odsonne Edouard within the squad, this is alarming.

Jean-Philippe Mateta again struggled to impact the game against the Blue, and the failure to replace Christian Benteke last August has been a huge mistake.


This was a dogged display by Vieira’s men, but they switched off for one moment, and it cost them dearly.

Not unlike the recent defeat at home to Tottenham, top strikers will ruthlessly expose lapses in concentration.

Here, Palace allowed a two-versus-one situation from a corner, and Kai Havertz lost Cheick Doucoure to head home the game’s only goal.

Chelsea v Crystal Palace Premier League, Stamford Bridge, 15 January 2023
Picture : Keith Gillard

Doucore can count himself lucky to see the game out. Already cautioned in the 26th minute, the Mali international midfielder walked the tightrope throughout. On another day, he would have seen red.

Nathaniel Clyne, Will Hughes, Marc Guehi and Eze joined Doucure in the book, as did Vieira, who, like his players, showed a lack of discipline at times.


Vicente Guaita was criticised in some quarters after the FA Cup tie with Southampton last weekend.

But in west London on Sunday afternoon, the Spanish stopper was in top from, producing several fine saves and exemplary handling.

Guaita really is Palace’s ‘Mr Consistent’ and really deserved better than some of the comments aimed in his direction after an uncharacteristic moment.

Those critics were left eating their words at Stamford Bridge.

Chelsea v Crystal Palace Premier League, Stamford Bridge, 15 January 2023
Picture : Keith Gillard


Halfway through January and Palace have so far been inactive in the transfer market, with the squad desperately in need of reinforcements.

Surprisingly, Palace are allowing more young players to leave on loan and haven’t brought bodies in so far.

Coupled with the fact that others around them are splashing the cash and strengthening squads, the lack of activity is only adding to fans’ anxiety.

After a successful window in the summer of 2021, Palace’s last two windows have been disappointing.

Only Doucoure is featuring regularly. Sam Johnstone has, of course, strengthened the goalkeeping department, but little has been seen of Chris Richards or Malcolm Ebiowei.

Vieira opted to use James Tomkins ahead of Richards after Joachim Andersen was forced to leave the field in the first half.

Palace will be desperately hoping the injury to the Dane is not serious.


Former loanee Conor Gallagher was roundly booed by the Palace fans in the Shed End during the final quarter.

Gallagher appeared to attempt to draw a foul and then rolled around on the grass, much to draw a foul.

The midfielder’s antics enraged his best friend Marc Guehi, who remonstrated with his close pal – the Palace defender’s frustration leading to him being booked.

Chelsea v Crystal Palace Premier League, Stamford Bridge, 15 January 2023
Picture : Keith Gillard

Whether there will be Christmas cards exchanged this year remains to be seen!


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