5 talking points as Chelsea come back to down Palace thanks to unlikely hero

5 talking points as Chelsea come back to down Palace thanks to unlikely hero

Conor Gallagher scored a 91st minute winner to see Chelsea steal a victory at Crystal Palace, though the Blues were unconvincing for much of Monday’s clash.

Mauricio Pochettino’s men were ponderous in the first-half and fell behind to Jefferson Lerma’s wondergoal. The midfielder capitalised on an awful mistake from Noni Madueke and Moises Caicedo before firing a curling shot past Blues keeper Djordje Petrovic on the half-hour mark.

But Chelsea were a different team in the second-half and quickly got back on level terms when Gallagher was left free in the box to smash home Malo Gusto’s cross. The match developed into an open affair thereafter, with Thiago Silva forced to come up with a crucial block to deny Palace on the hour mark.

That set the stage for Gallagher to steal a win in the first minute of injury time before Enzo Fernandez added a late third. Here, Mirror Football looks at the biggest talking points from the game.

Pochettino eases the pressure

The pressure has been on Chelsea boss Mauricio Pochettino for some time, with his side closer to the relegation zone than they are to the top four. Though he has led them to the Carabao Cup final and into the fifth round of the FA Cup, results in the Premier League have not been good enough.

Their trend of disappointing results away from home came to an end on Monday at struggling Palace. While this match may have been seen as the perfect chance to claim a welcome win, the Blues never got going in the first-half.

But Pochettino was able to turn things around a half-time, with his side eventually having too much for their hosts. The Argentine may now be easy to breath easy with this morale-boosting win, with the Blues’ second-half performance a blueprint for their future outings.

HAVE YOUR SAY! Who was man of the match in Crystal Palace’s clash with Chelsea? Comment below.

A game of two halves

LONDON, ENGLAND - FEBRUARY 12: Conor Gallagher of Chelsea holds off Chris Richards of Crystal Palace during the Premier League match between Crystal Palace and Chelsea FC at Selhurst Park on February 12, 2024 in London, England. (Photo by Chris Lee - Chelsea FC/Chelsea FC via Getty Images)

Chelsea were a different team in the second-half having been frustrated by Palace
Chris Lee – Chelsea FC/Chelsea FC via Getty Images)

Monday’s match proved to be the definition of a game of two halves. In the first period, Chelsea dominated possession, but in areas where Crystal Palace were in no real danger.

The visitors had an incredible 79 percent of the possession in the first-half, but failed to have a shot on target. Though they were ponderous in the first-half, the Blues looked to be a totally different team after the break.

They started quickly, scoring an equaliser through Gallagher, with the game developing into an open affair. That suited the visitors, who were able to create far more opportunities in the second-half and ultimately took home all three points.

Silva bounces back

LONDON, ENGLAND - FEBRUARY 12: Thiago Silva of Chelsea gestures during the Premier League match between Crystal Palace and Chelsea FC at Selhurst Park on February 12, 2024 in London, England. (Photo by Vince Mignott/MB Media/Getty Images)

Thiago Silva impressed before being forced off with injury
Vince Mignott/MB Media/Getty Images)

Thiago Silva was making his first appearance since being part of the team that lost so dismally to Wolves at Stamford Bridge. In the aftermath of that match, the Brazilian’s wife appeared to hit out at Pochettino.

Silva was dropped for the win over Aston Villa in the FA Cup last week, but was brought back into the team for the trip to Selhurst Park following Benoit Bashiadile’s injury. It would be a welcome return for the veteran, who showed why he deserves a starting spot.

He had an incredible pass completion rate of 99 percent in the first-half and was solid defensively. He delivered a crucial block to deny Jean-Phillipe Mateta just after the hour mark, but it proved costly, with the defender forced off with a groin problem.

Palace show fight

LONDON, ENGLAND - FEBRUARY 12: Jefferson Lerma of Crystal Palace shoots and scores during the Premier League match between Crystal Palace and Chelsea FC at Selhurst Park on February 12, 2024 in London, England. (Photo by Vince Mignott/MB Media/Getty Images)

Jefferson Lerma scored a wondergoal to put Palace ahead
Vince Mignott/MB Media/Getty Images)

Pochettino was not the only manager under pressure heading into Monday’s game. Palace boss Roy Hodgson has also been feeling the heat, with fans growing tired of his pragmatic approach.

While it is clear that the veteran manager has not lost the dressing room, given how his players stuck to their tactical jobs, the Englishman may pay for a poor run of results. The hosts created a sturdy defensive wall, but it fell apart in the closing stages.

Palace did have their chances, but were unable to take them and were ultimately made to pay dearly. It was perhaps a typical Hodgson performance and with the Eagles being defeated despite that, his time as manager could soon be up.

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Gallagher to the rescue

The tone for the second-half was set by Conor Gallagher, who scored the equaliser just two minutes after the break. Gallagher had a strong night, finishing with a pass completion rate of more than 85 percent.

His intensity helped to drag the Blues out of their first-half slumber, with the midfielder looking to drive his team forward. He won four of his defensive duels, making two recoveries as he looked to impose himself on Palace’s midfield.

The Englishman was also positive in attack and ensured Chelsea stole the win with a goal in the 91st minute. There have been increasing rumours that the Blues are open to selling the academy product, but he showed once again why he has been entrusted with the captaincy for much of the campaign.

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