Chelsea solidified their place at the top of the table on Saturday afternoon with a 1-0 win against Crystal Palace at Selhurst Park.
In the midst of the South London fog, the game struggled to get going in the first half – indeed, Diego Costa’s headed goal right before half time came after a large period of inactivity from both sides.
Thankfully the game opened up after the restart with chances falling to both teams. Chelsea however, were able to seal their third successive 1-0 win – their eleventh league victory in a row – to fasten their grip on top spot in the league.
But how did each individual player perform on a day where Antonio Conte’s side showed once again that they can mix grit with power, and left Alan Pardew still looking nervously over his shoulder.
Crystal Palace Player Ratings:
Wayne Hennessey – 7: Could perhaps have done better for Costa’s opener, but made several fine saves in the second half to give his team a chance of getting something from the game.
Martin Kelly – 7: One of Palace’s most threatening players. Bypassed Alonso in opposition on more than one occasion and looked for Benteke constantly with a series of crosses. Looked dangerous.
Scott Dann – 5.5: Beaten in the air for Costa’s header, and while Dann didn’t have a match filled with errors, the Chelsea attack exposed him on more than one occasion.
Damien Delaney – 6: More assured than Dann next to him, but his energy began to wear down as the contest wore on. At 35 years of age and against such pace, that is to be expected.
Joel Ward – 6: Handled himself well against Victor Moses in the first half, but the Chelsea player simply took over in the second. Another whose performance fell apart towards the end.
Yohan Cabaye – 4.5: The Crystal Palace central midfield was shown up badly by Chelsea this afternoon. Apart from having a decent shot saved by Courtois, Cabaye did little else of note.
Joe Ledley – 4.5: Came in for the injured Mathieu Flamini but appeared to have some problems. Poor passing, overrun by the opposition midfield and allowed way too much to pass him by.
Wilfried Zaha – 6.5: Started brightly and threatened to bury Alonso in the first half, but it wore off spectacularly in the second. The signs of tiredness in Zaha were obvious as the game progressed.
James McArthur – 6: Failed to replicate his decent showing against Manchester United in midweek. Not a horrific performance by any means, but lost the physical battle with Matic and Kanté.
Jason Puncheon – 5.5: Missed a good chance in the second half and skied a free kick. Puncheon’s usual reliability just wasn’t on show today.
Christian Benteke – 5.5: Isolated up front for a large period of the game. A quiet game for the Belgian international through no fault of his own, he tried his best but he couldn’t beat the Chelsea defence on his own.
Andros Townsend (Puncheon 77) – 5: A wayward free kick was about the sum total of Townsend’s contribution following his late introduction.
Frazier Campbell (Cabaye 79) – N/A: Made even less of a contribution than Townsend. Touched the ball once in the fifteen minutes or so that he was on.
Zeki Fryers (Kelly 84) – N/A: Had little time to make an impact, and yet still did more than Campbell.
Chelsea Player Ratings:
Thibaut Courtois – 6: Quiet, through no fault of his own. Did well to get down low to a Cabaye volley in the second half, but otherwise he was largely untroubled.
César Azpilicueta – 8.5: Supplied the ball for Costa’s winner, and another extremely impressive performance from Azpilicueta this afternoon. Dominant in the air, and only Hazard had a higher passing accuracy (excluding Courtois).
David Luiz – 7: Let very little past him in defence. Games like this call for a big performance in defence and Luiz rose to that challenge very well.
Gary Cahill – 6: The above Cabaye chance was a result of a Cahill error, and while he has improved since the horror shows of earlier this season, he must surely be wary of Kurt Zouma taking his place down the line.
Victor Moses – 7: Strong second half again from Moses. Pegged slightly in the first, but he was a major beneficiary of the game opening up as it went on.
Nemanja Matic – 7: Quiet but solid performance from the Serbian international. Was far more composed than Kanté in a way that perhaps Cesc Fabregas would not have been.
N’Golo Kanté – 6.5: Showed his industrious side in helping secure the win from midfield, but while Kanté’s general performance was a little less assured than usual, his presence will be badly missed against Bournemouth. Had two well-taken shots in the second half.
Marcos Alonso – 7: Grew into the game as it went on, and had a particularly strong second half on the left. Was unlucky to see a beautiful free kick crash off the bar deep into the second half. Interesting battle with Wilfired Zaha throughout.
Willian – 5.5: If Willian was trying to show why he deserves to start ahead of Pedro, this wasn’t how to go about it. Wayward passing and zero impetus from the Brazilian international, and deservedly replaced by Fabregas just after the hour mark.
Eden Hazard – 7: Solid if unspectacular display from Hazard this afternoon. Threatening without ever having the penetration to show for it. Not a bad showing, but his worked helped others more than himself.
Diego Costa – 8: Matchwinner and general nuisance-maker extraordinaire, Costa gave a typically robust performance. Strong in the attack, combined well with those around him and was a constant source of worry for the Palace defence.
Cesc Fabregas (Willian 64) – 7.5: Fabregas seems to have finally adapted to how Conte wants this Chelsea side to play. Was far more effective than Willian in attack, and at times created space from nothing.
Branislav Ivanovic (Moses 79) – 6: Replaced Moses late on. Helped in securing the win, but did little to stand out.
Michy Batshuayi (Diego Costa 89) – N/A: Batshuayi got his customary stoppage time sub appearance, but may finally start against Bournemouth due to Diego Costa’s suspension.