Crystal Palace 0-1 Chelsea: 5 Talking Points & Tactical Analysis | Premier League 2018-19
A superb strike in the 51st minute from N'Golo Kante was enough to see Chelsea over the line as they beat Crystal Palace by 1-0 at Selhurst Park to end the calendar year on a positive note and claim their first hat-trick of away wins under new boss Maurizio Sarri.
It was a solid victory, more than a smooth one. Despite all the recycling of possession and repeated knocking at the home defence, the Blues only threaded together a handful of chances.
Nonetheless, Sarri's troops got over the line and got the job done. They are now just two points behind Spurs and five ahead of 5th placed Arsenal.
On that note, let's take a look at the major talking points from Chelsea's 1-0 win over Crystal Palace.
#1 Chelsea dominate possession but struggle to create chances
As envisioned by most of the learned observers, Chelsea started with most of the ball and knocked it around. Palace setup in their 4-5-1 shape and completely foiled the back line with a power-packed midfield.
As one would expect from a Roy Hodgson side, the midfield stood to their lines without lunging into challenges.
The Blues had over 70% of the ball in the opening exchanges, but neither Hazard nor Willian managed to take the attack to the opposition. As a result, there was no shot on target in the open half an hour. A late burst from Kante was just wide of goal, but unfortunately for the neutrals, it was the closest either side had come to breaking to deadlock.
The Eagles meanwhile, started very cautiously. They were more than contented to let the yellow shirts dictate the pace of the game. Not to mention, Jorginho, who is the heartbeat of this Chelsea framework, was religiously awarded acres of space, solely because their primary aim was to congest as many spaces as possible.
Another highlight of the opening half an hour was Marcos Alonso's frustration. Often irked by the passes that came his way, the Spaniard punched the ball away after a long ball was just a little awkwardly played in. Much to his embitterment, the full-back was booked.