Chelsea put on a show in London on Saturday afternoon, cruising to an emphatic 4-1 victory over Crystal Palace at Selhurst Park.
The Blues raced into a two-goal lead inside 10 minutes, after Kai Havertz curled a clever shot into the far corner of the net, and Christian Pulisic blasted home from a tight angle. Havertz almost added a third soon after, but Vicente Guaita clawed away his low effort.
The Spanish shot-stopper could do little to deny Kurt Zouma from notching a third on the half-hour mark, as the defender powered home a towering header from a delightful Mason Mount cross. Antonio Rudiger almost scored a header of his own, but his effort was cleared off the line as Palace limped into the dressing room 3-0 down at half-time.
Chelsea were in cruise control at the start of the second half and looked to add more goals, Ben Chilwell firing wide on his weaker right foot. The visitors received a shock on 63 minutes, however, when Christian Benteke leapt to score an excellent header at the back post.
But the result was put beyond any doubt with just over ten minutes remaining when Reece James picked out Pulisic at the far post, and the American tucked away his second of the match to wrap up all three points.
RIght, let’s get on with the player ratings.
Vicente Guaita (GK) – 5/10 – Could do little as the defence ahead of him parted like the Red Sea, leaving the Spaniard horribly exposed. Who’d want to be a goalkeeper in this team?
Joel Ward (RB) – 5/10 – Couldn’t live with Pulisic’s power and was overrun by Chilwell’s attacking movement. Surrendered possession all too often.
Cheikhou Kouyate (CB) – 5/10 – Booked early on and couldn’t get close to his man when marking on corners. Caught in possession and gave the ball away plenty.
Gary Cahill (CB) – 5/10 – Didn’t frustrate his old employers as he would have hoped. Dazed by Havertz’s movement and technical ability. A tough day at the office.
Patrick van Aanholt (LB) – 6/10 – Stranded on the left-hand side, unable to stop Chelsea doubling up on his flank.
Jordan Ayew (RM) – 5/10 – Hardly noticed he was on the pitch. Miles off the pace, and contributed nothing in any third of the pitch.
Luka Milivojevic (CM) – 6/10 – Out-battled and outclassed by Kovacic and Jorginho, who passed the Serb to death. A passenger in the middle.
Jairo Riedewald (CM) – 5/10 – The game completely passed Riedewald by. Second to every ball and never close to winning it back for his teammates.
Ebere Eze (LM) – 5/10 – Set the tone for the match, dallying on the ball just outside his own penalty area and losing possession. He paid the price, and it was uphill from then on. A steep learning curve.
Christian Benteke (ST) – 7/10 – Popped up to score a bullet header in the second half, giving the hosts some hope. Not much else to cheer.
Wilfried Zaha (ST) – 5/10 – Rattled from the outset. Looked fed up and like he wanted to be anywhere else but playing in this team and system. Tried to kick off on Mount, one of football’s nice boys.
Jeffrey Schlupp (LM) – 7/10
James McCarthy (CM) – 7/10
Andros Townsend (RM) – 6/10
Edouard Mendy (GK) – 6/10 – Could have booked the day off to watch the golf, if he’s into that sort of thing. Not a single shot to save in the first half.
Cesar Azpilicueta (CB) – 7/10 – Very little defensive work to do, and left the attacking malarkey to the young whippersnappers.
Kurt Zouma (CB) – 8/10 – Rose highest to head home Mount’s delicious in-swinging free-kick. No stopping that one. Little to do in the way of defending.
Antonio Rudiger (CB) – 7/10 – Almost joined Zouma on the scoresheet, but his header was repelled off the line. Defended sensibly.
Callum Hudson-Odoi (RWB) – 8/10 – Enjoyed the freedom of the entire right flank. Bombed on, slaloming through tackles and playing neat passes to give and go. Got the assist for the opener.
Jorginho (CM) – 7/10 – In the right place at the right time to intercept passes and get Chelsea moving. Tidy on the ball and also on hand to do the defensive stuff when needed. Cut out many passes on the edge of his own box.
Mateo Kovacic (CM) – 8/10 – Set the tone with his pressing in the midfield and hunger to win the ball back. Played through the lines to feed Havertz and the other forwards. Didn’t have a proper opponent, in fairness.
Ben Chilwell (LWB) – 7/10 – Another commanding display to follow on from his Champions League heroics. Did excellently going forward, but out-jumped by Benteke for the consolation. Not his fault, really.
Mason Mount (RW) – 8/10 – Interchanged with his attacking teammates wonderfully, drifting around and popping up in dangerous positions to hurt Palace. Assisted the third with a beautiful cross.
Kai Havertz (ST) – 8/10 – Finally, he has arrived! Produced a neat finish to open the scoring, assisted the second with great awareness and almost scored again with a magical flick over the defender’s head.
Christian Pulisic (LW) – 8/10 – Rifled home from Havertz’s pass to double the lead early on. An angry finish from a man who’s been unable to show his skills of late. Lethal to bag his second of the afternoon, too.
Ngolo Kante (CM) – 6/10
Reece James (RWB) – 7/10
Hakim Ziyech (RW) – 6/10