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Tactics: How Palace’s £2.2m Rated Star Was Crucial In Bulldozing Chelsea’s Tough Tacklers

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Jose Mourinho

Chelsea lost 0-1 to a spirited Crystal Palace team that came with the energy and enthusiasm to bully the league leaders. The passion was strong for the Eagles whereas Chelsea were stunned by the pace and physicality that was forced upon their players.

It was a poor day in the field for the Blues, another defeat against bottom half opponents which has all but dented the title hopes for the West London outfit. The tactics were pretty clear for us to see, as Crystal Palace looked to defend deep and use the pace and strength of Cameron Jerome to counter attack.

Chelsea played a defensive minded team by starting Lampard instead of Oscar. That proved to be a huge factor in the first half as Lampard could not contribute in creativity as he was too slow to combine with Hazard and Schurrle. The 35-year old was chosen for his shooting prowess that might have been ideal against a team that would simply sit back and won’t attack at all, but Crystal Palace were very brave and counter-attacked and worked twice harder than what Jose Mourinho would have envisaged.

Crystal Palace made Chelsea work within their own half, without pressing them while concentrating on winning the ball in their own penalty area and countering via Cameron Jerome. Jerome held the ball very well and allowed Bolasie to join the attack, beating Ivanovic for sheer pace. Palace exploited the slow Chelsea players Ivanovic, Lampard and Terry as they looked to ruffle the feathers and hurt Chelsea. A couple of penalty decisions went against the hosts as Gary Cahill looked to foul Jerome first, which was a close call and was minor while Bolasie later, which was a blatant penalty.

Most of the possession was dominated by Chelsea but they never looked like scoring as they couldn’t manage a shot on target. In the second half, Matic was left alone in the central midfield as David Luiz and Lampard were substituted for Oscar and Salah considering the fact that Chelsea needed goals. Matic was over worked because he was far too isolated in the middle against the pace and energy of Palace players.

Much needs to be talked about how Tony Pulis arranges his team’s defensive shape. Mile Jedinak holds the midfield and defence in good shape as well as defenders Delaney and Dann were aggressive foulers as and when required. Fernando Torres was often stuck with these two centre backs whereas even the full-backs were physically stronger than Chelsea attackers.

Let’s look some of Jedinak’s stats. (Courtesy of squawka)

The Australian managed to clear 11 of Chelsea’s attacking threats adding to his 4 interceptions and 4 tackles. Jedinak further managed to win most of the headed duels as well, which was the main plot of the Blues attack in the second half. He won 7 of the 11 headed dules in the middle of the park, which reveals the importance of his presence.

Total Clearances made by Jedinak
Total Clearances made by Jedinak
Total headed duels won by Jedinak
Total headed duels won by Jedinak

Long ball tactics by Chelsea defenders and Matic failed as the Palace defence was well up to the task whereas their attack was actually not clinical as they could manage to get in behind the Blues back four but missed all their chances as the game’s only goal was John Terry’s own goal.

The game nearly ends the title hopes for Chelsea this season as Mourinho rightly gave credit to Crystal Palace and added that “Chelsea now depend too much on other results. Too much.”

A game of massive significance at the top and bottom as well, the disappointment of the Blues fans may have subsided a little bit after Man City drew with Arsenal and are still behind Chelsea. We can safely assume that Liverpool and Man City will overtake the Blues sooner than later, but Chelsea will need to win all their coming games and hope that City lose at least 2 and draw one game whereas Liverpool lose against Spurs or any other team in the coming days.

As for Palace, they look spirited and full of character to avoid the drop this season, which would mean another successful season for Tony Pulis.

Jedinak’s market value taken from transfermarkt.co.uk