Chelsea’s stellar start to their 2018/19 campaign continued as they defeated Crystal Palace 3-1 on Sunday evening.
Despite not being at their best, a brace from Alvaro Morata and a late strike from Pedro earned Chelsea all three points, bumping them up to second place in the Premier League – just two points behind league leaders Manchester City.
As for Crystal Palace, they remain firmly in the bottom half of the table after the defeat and have only managed to amass eight points from their opening 11 matches.
Here are four things we learned from the entertaining encounter.
4. Ross Barkley Doesn’t Fit in to Chelsea’s Best Starting XI
Ross Barkley has been enjoying somewhat of a renaissance so far this season, but things didn’t exactly go to plan for the midfielder on Sunday.
He looked off the pace right from the word go and was found guilty of giving the ball away far too often, particularly when Chelsea looked to be in threatening positions.
As soon as he was replaced by Mateo Kovacic in the second half, Chelsea’s play looked more dynamic and incisive and the Croatian looked much more comfortable with the ball at his feet.
Barkley is a superb asset to have at Maurizio Sarri’s disposal, but Kovacic should be the automatic starter in the midfield.
3. Aaron Wan-Bissaka Has a Very Bright Future Ahead of Him
Chelsea were finding no luck attacking down the left flank right up until Eden Hazard was introduced midway through the second half, which is testament to how well Aaron Wan-Bissaka performed at right-back for Crystal Palace.
The youngster’s positional awareness was sound and he looked completely unphased throughout the ninety minutes.
He could have perhaps done a little better to stop the cross for Chelsea’s third goal, but it has to remembered that he is still just 20 years old and that he has only made 20 first team appearances for the Eagles.
2. Alvaro Morata Is Starting to Get in to the Swing of Things
Ever since Alvaro Morata joined Chelsea from Real Madrid last summer, he has found himself becoming the butt of far too many jokes for his poor form in front of goal.
He didn’t start the season brilliantly, but all of a sudden things seem to be clicking in front of goal for the Spaniard.
He bagged a very impressive brace, bringing his goal tally to six in all competitions, which by all accounts is not a bad return.
With Olivier Giroud out injured, now is the time for Morata to prove his doubters wrong and make the number nine spot his own.
1. Eden Hazard Is the Man
Ever since Eden Hazard joined Chelsea back in 2013, it was clear to see that the Belgian was a very special footballer.
But this season he looks like a completely different animal all together.
Maurizio Sarri probably made the right call by leaving him out from the start considering his fitness concerns, but bringing him off the bench midway through the second half proved to be a masterstroke.
Hazard raised the tempo of the game, inspired the crowd and ultimately effected the outcome of the match. His presence at Chelsea cannot be underestimated.