Crystal Palace 0 – 3 Chelsea

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Review by Richard Foster (Twitter: @rcfoster)

After a solid December, which brought a mixture of wins and draws; January began with a damp squib. The first fixture of 2016 was ushered in by biblical rain, which soaked everyone to the skin, and was partly responsible for Chelsea’s first goal as Damian Delaney went to ground allowing Diego Costa time and space to get to the byline and pull back for Oscar to prod in from six yards. As soon as Chelsea got their noses in front, their confidence grew visibly and they took control of the game, which became a bit of a procession in the second half as the Blues’ grip tightened.

The match illustrated the respective strength in depth of both squads, so whilst Chelsea could replace the injured Eden Hazard with Pedro whilst Palace brought on Jonny Williams, a player who had been on loan to Championship teams over the last couple of years. If ever there was a gentle nudge in the ribs of Palace chairman Steve Parish that resources were a bit thin on the ground and in desperate need of additions in the transfer window to maintain Palace’s fine first half of the season then this was it.

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It was always going to be a struggle to overcome the loss of the suspended Yohan Cabaye, who combines calm assurance on the ball with an eye for a pass as well as sharp tackling and a high rate of interceptions – all of these were sorely missing on Sunday. This was especially the case in the second half when the West Londoners passed the ball without anyone getting close to them and Palace surrendered possession and never really looked like delivering the killer ball.

Whilst Mile Jedinak and James McArthur tried their hardest they could not wrest control from Cesc Fabregas and Jon Obi Mikel who grew increasingly dominant as the game wore on. Willian’s strike for the second was unstoppable and a rejuvenated Diego Costa rounded off the scoring when pouncing on Wayne Hennessey’s parry. It could have got worse if not for some vital blocks from Scott Dann and Delaney. A comprehensive defeat to the existing Premier League champions is not time to panic but the depth of the squad must be addressed and three games without a goal speaks volumes of where we need to strengthen.

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And so rather than dwelling on a performance that was lacking both key personnel and the usual spirit, it would be more instructive to look forward to what Palace can achieve over the remainder of the season. With a couple of new players to freshen things up a top half finish seems realistic whilst talk of Europe may be a bit fanciful. Naturally the sooner the magic 40 point mark is reached the more relaxed all at the club will be and we can kick on, maybe even entertain the idea of an FA Cup run, starting on Saturday at Southampton.

As official sponsor of AFC Bournemouth and Crystal Palace FC, Mansion will be offering unique insights into the team’s games each week, through collaboration with a selection of passionate fan reviewers.

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