Chelsea’s miserable start to the season continued as Crystal Palace claimed their first win against us since 1982, winning 2-1.
In what was Jose Mourinho’s 100th home league game in charge of the Blues, he suffered what was only his second defeat in a game we did indeed deserve to lose, regardless of what the Portuguese said in his post-match press conference.
Chelsea were unchanged from the win against West Brom, barring the enforced change at the back, with Kurt Zouma stepping in for the suspended captain John Terry. Palace made one change of their own from their last league game against Aston Villa, with Connor Wickham coming in for Glenn Murray.
Despite the scoreline it was us who dominated the first half, enjoying plenty of possession and therefore not really giving our shaky defence too much to worry about. New boy Pedro had two good chances to open his account at Stamford Bridge, but one was blocked by Scott Dann and the other went just wide of the post.
Not long after came what in hindsight proved a big turning point in the game, as Kurt Zouma had a penalty appeal waved away. Rising to meet a corner, the young Frenchman had his shirt pulled but referee Craig Pawson was having none of it and play continued.
Good chances for Bakary Sako and Yohan Cabaye failed to find the net and after a brief Palace spell on top Chelsea were soon causing problems for an otherwise resolute visiting back line. Willian had a volley blocked and Cesar Azpilicueta just failed to find Diego Costa from a cross which surely would have been guided in had the Spaniard got a toe to it.
An even better chance came our way just before half time. Costa broke from a Palace corner and went for goal from a tight angle, which Alex McCarthy could only push out to Fabregas, whose goalbound effort was blocked again by the impressive Dann.
Half time came and in truth it was more of the same after the break, with us enjoying plenty of possession and creating some decent half-chances, but nothing too clear-cut. Chances for Diego Costa, Ivanovic and Zouma all came but Palace defended resolutely.
Zouma, who has a case for being the most impressive player in a blue shirt, had another chance, this time it a was much better effort. A header from a corner was goalbound but again found a white shirt in the way, this time it was Sako.
And almost immediately, the former Wolves man made an impact up the other end as he helped Palace go 1-0 up. His first shot was blocked but he tapped in the rebound to give Alan Pardew’s men a shock but deserved lead.
In response, Falcao and Kenedy were brought on. Bizarrely, Kenedy – a winger by trade – slotted in at left-back, while Abdul Baba Rahman – an actual left-back – sat on the bench unused. While the need for goals can be appreciated, bringing a player on who frankly has no idea when it comes to defending at the expense of a £20m signing who is actually a defender was quite baffling.
The decision to bring the oft-slated Falcao did prove to be inspired though, as it was he who turned in a sublime Pedro cross with a diving header to restore parity and set the wheels in motion for the comeback.
However, Joel Ward soon slapped the brakes on a comeback as he almost immediately regained the lead. Sako again was involved as he diverted a Yannick Bolasie cross into the path of Ward who poked home unmarked for Palace to secure a famous win.
It was a hugely deflating afternoon for Chelsea, who surely felt they had turned a corner after beating West Brom last weekend. All the more disappointing was seeing the same defensive lethargy and some very tepid performances all over the pitch. While he has said otherwise, Mourinho could be in for a busy couple of days before the transfer window ends, as we aim to recover from an 8-point deficit to Man City and retain our Premier League title.