Chelsea’s disappointing start to the season continued on Saturday as they lost a home league game for just the second time under Jose Mourinho. Crystal Palace took an impressive three points thanks to goals from Bakary Sako and Joel Ward. Falcao was on target for the first time for the Blues, but he couldn’t stop a second defeat of the season.
Pedro once again took his place on the right flank, alongside Willian and Eden Hazard, with Oscar still out. John Terry was suspended, and he was replaced by Gary Cahill at the back. Abdul Baba Rahman had to settle for a place on the bench, while Branislav Ivanovic kept his place, despite his poor form.
The Blues found Palace to be a tough nut to crack in the first half, as the hosts dominated the possession but found themselves level at half time. The longer the game went on, the more threatening Alan Pardew’s side became with their counter attacking style.
Even at 0-0, this wasn’t how Mourinho had envisaged his 100th home game in charge of Chelsea would develop as his team looked decidedly below par from the off. Things got even worse, as Sako converted after a low cross from Yannick Bolasie, giving Palace a shock lead. The Chelsea manager immediately sent on Falcao for Willian, as he joined Diego Costa up front. Minutes later he brought on youngster Kenedy for Cesar Azpilicueta, as he desperately tried to get his side back into the game.
Bringing on Falcao worked for the Blues, as the Colombian headed in an equaliser, scoring his first goal since joining this summer. That looked like it could have been a huge turning point for Chelsea, but then Palace went straight up the other end and retook the lead. He headed in to give his side a massive victory, and heap more pressure on Mourinho and the champions.
It’s no surprise that the two goals ended up coming from the left flank. Palace focused on attacking Chelsea’s right hand side, with almost half of all their attacks developing from that side of the pitch. Not only is Ivanovic looking decidedly dodgy at present, he’s now seen as an easy target for the oppositions’ wingers. With Pedro in front of him now, he’s hardly likely to get much protection in future, either.
After the game, Mourinho was asked why he thought his side had lost their hunger after winning the title last year. “If that is the point, it is very, very sad because, for me, I feel the opposite,” the manager said. “When I win, I want to win again. My medal is at home, in a drawer, [because] I feel fantastic motivation for more. If you win it once and the next [year] you are not on fire, not ready at least to fight for more, that is sad.
“Will I accept this, cross my arms, sit in a nice chair and wait calmly for the performance level to be back? No. I have to work, react, analyse and, if I feel the players are not in conditions to react and give more, I have to make changes. I have never had a problem with that.”
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