For the second time in as many weeks, Chelsea responded to a fruitless first 45 minutes with an offensive explosion after halftime.
Following a scoreless opening stanza on Saturday, the Blues scored four times in a 4-0 Premier League win against London neighbor Crystal Palace, getting goals from Ben Chilwell and Kurt Zouma, and two from Jorginho from the penalty spot in its latest late show. Last week, Chelsea got a stoppage-time equalizer from Tammy Abraham against West Brom to overcome a 3-0 first half deficit.
As expected, U.S. national teamer Christian Pulisic began Saturday’s match on the bench after recovering from the hamstring injury he suffered in August. And as they had since the new Premier League season began last month, the Blues struggled to create and finish scoring chances without chief creator Pulisic, as highly touted forward Timo Werner and playmaker Kai Havertz continue to adjust to the English game after arriving from their native Germany this summer.
Young homegrown attackers Abraham, Callum Hudson-Odoi and Mason Mount were Chelsea’s heroes last Saturday. This week, with its strikers and wingers still searching for chemistry, two Blues defenders came to the rescue. Right back Chilwell broke the deadlock 10 minutes after the break.
It was one-way traffic before and after the opener, though, as Chelsea finished with 17 shots, three of which ended up in Palace’s net. Meantime, new Chelsea goalkeeper Édouard Mendy, who replaced the gaffe-prone Kepa Arrizabalaga in Frank Lampard’s lineup, wasn’t forced to make a single save by the visitors.
The Eagles’ ineptitude going forward meant that the match was all but over when Zouma doubled the hosts’ advantage in the 66th minute.
After that, spot-kick specialist Jorginho made it a rout by converting from 12 yards twice in a four-minute span after Abraham and Havertz were chopped down by Palace defenders. The Brazilian, who has never missed a penalty for Chelsea, picked the same spot (and sent Eagles backstop Vicente Guaita the wrong way) both times.
Lampard inserted Pulisic off the bench immediately following Jorginho’s second goal. His seven-minute cameo marked the American’s first action of the 2020-21 campaign. With the Prem off next weekend because of FIFA’s international fixture window, Pulisic should be ready to play a bigger role when the schedule resumes against Southampton on Oct. 17.
He’ll need to. The matches will come thick and fast for Chelsea after that, with its Champions League group stage opener against Spanish side Sevilla just three days later.
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