EPL 2016-17: Chelsea 1-2 Crystal Palace, 5 talking points
The Saturday afternoon match between Chelsea and Crystal Palace had all the makings of a fascinating competition as the visitors took the aspiring champions by surprise with their defensive resilience. Chelsea needed to win seven of their last 10 league fixtures to be crowned Premier League champions going into the fixture and they had won 13 consecutive home games but that alone could not prevent Antonio Conte’s men from dropping all three points against the Eagles.
The Blues took an early lead through a Cesc Fabregas goal only to be followed by an equaliser from Wilfred Zaha a few minute later. It got worse for the hosts in just a couple of minutes as Christian Benteke’s inspired finish saw them trailing behind. However, with 80 minutes of the game left to play, it seemed like the Blues were bound to pull back at least one.
However, the night ended quite differently. Questionable decisions, a total of 100+ minutes of game time played, a couple of flairs courtesy of the travelling fans, serious injuries, daring dissension and utter confusion towards the end when an offside call was mistaken for the final whistle cumulated in a fascinating spectacle at Stamford Bridge.
Here’s a look at the five major talking points from all the action:
#1 Zaha’s night out
Wilfried Zaha was largely responsible for Palace’s good fortune as he first scored and then set up his side’s second goal to hand Chelsea a shocking defeat at home. The Ivorian’s immaculately placed strike that went through the legs of Chelsea defenders and bolted in past Thibaut Courtois’s outstretched hand in the eighth minute drew Palace level after the Blues had already opened the scoring in the fourth minute.
He then went on to send his side and the travelling supporters over the moon when he set up Christian Benteke for a second, the one that was to be the eventual winner of the game. However, it was after Zaha’s contribution to the scoreline that the winger really shone. After the Eagles had the lead, it was just a matter of holding on and the former Manchester United man played his part well.
He defended well through the waves of attack from the hosts and made the most of his opportunities. No ball was lost cheaply when he was around and proved to be a diligent worker as he hounded the Chelsea players. With an immaculate take on record and three attempts on goal, Zaha is unlikely to forget this day quickly.