Chelsea are up to second in the Premier League, having played a game more than Manchester City, after a 2-0 win over Crystal Palace.
Tammy Abraham scored his 10th Premier League goal for Chelsea as they secured a 2-0 win over Crystal Palace at Stamford Bridge on Saturday.
The 22-year-old striker became the youngest Blues player to reach double figures in the Premier League since Arjen Robben when he swept home following a clever Willian pass.
Chelsea had found clear-cut chances hard to come by against a stubborn Palace side, whose manager Roy Hodgson was taking charge of his 300th game in England‘s top flight.
Abraham’s cool finish broke the deadlock, though, before a simple header from Christian Pulisic made certain of a sixth league win in a row for Frank Lampard’s side.
Chelsea, whose starting line-up was their youngest in Premier League history at an average age of 24 years and 88 days, certainly started the more exuberantly of the teams and could have gone ahead when Pulisic was denied by Vicente Guaita after turning past Joel Ward.
Palace were not offering much of an attacking threat, but they did seem to have the Chelsea forward line under increasing control, although only a brilliant block from Gary Cahill stopped former team-mate Willian turning the ball in with seconds of the first half left.
Palace’s resistance was broken seven minutes after the restart, though, Abraham slotting confidently past Guaita after being played through by a fine reverse pass from Willian.
Pulisic was then denied by a flying save from Guaita, but the visitors spurned a great chance to level when James Tomkins nodded wide from just seven yards out.
It proved a costly miss as, with 11 minutes to go, Pulisic nodded the ball past Guaita for his first goal at Stamford Bridge after Michy Batshuayi’s shot was blocked.
What does it mean? Chelsea up to second thanks to best form since Conte
Chelsea’s victory moves them above Manchester City into second place in the table, with the champions a point behind ahead of their trip to leaders Liverpool on Sunday.
Lampard’s side seem likely to stay near the top, too – they have won six league matches in a row for the first time since May 2017, when Antonio Conte guided them to the title.
Willian still holds the key for Chelsea
Much has rightly been made of youngsters Abraham, Mason Mount and latterly Pulisic, but it is hard to dispute that Willian remains Chelsea’s most important attacking player.
The Brazil international, captain for the day, created four goalscoring chances – including his assist – and completed 95 per cent of his passes.
Zaha sums up toothless Palace
Palace are a disciplined side but goalscoring remains a concern. They offered almost nothing in attack against Chelsea, with Wilfried Zaha generally unable to influence matters going forward, creating one chance and having no attempts on goal.
Key Opta Stats:
– This was Palace’s 100th Premier League London derby (W23 D23 L54), with only Fulham posting a lower points-per-game rate in such games (0.84) than the Eagles (0.92).
– Lampard is the seventh English manager to win six consecutive Premier League matches and the first since Alan Pardew in April 2012 with Newcastle United.
– Hodgson is the 15th boss to oversee his 300th Premier League game as a manager.
– Cesar Azpilicueta’s run of 73 consecutive starts in the Premier League for Chelsea ended, with the defender failing to start for the first time since November 2017 against Swansea City.
– Palace failed to attempt a single shot in the first half of a Premier League match for the first time since March 2014 away to Swansea.
Chelsea return from the international break with a daunting trip to Manchester City on November 23. Palace do not have things any easier: they host Liverpool on the same day.