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Chelsea win at Crystal Palace: Five things we learned as Hakim Ziyech bails out Blues

Chelsea built on their Club World Cup triumph over Palmeiras with a late Hakim Ziyech winner against Crystal Palace on Saturday afternoon.

The Moroccan had a goal ruled out for offside before his calm back-post volley sealed the three points and alleviated Thomas Tuchel’s frustration.

The performance still leaves numerous questions hanging over the current Blues side, and according to Express Sport here are five things learned during their last-gasp Premier League win.

Chelsea shown what they are missing by Palace duo

Palace boss Patrick Vieira witnessed impressive displays by former Chelsea youngsters Marc Guehi and Michael Olise. 

Guehi and his centre-back partner, Joachim Andersen, kept the Blues’ £98million signing Romelu Lukaku extremely quiet, especially in the first half. 

Olise, meanwhile, continues to capitalise on the game time given to him by the Eagles boss, playing a superb through-ball to Wilfried Zaha and showing his classy ability from set pieces. 

Guehi was sold by Chelsea in the summer after 14 years at the club, while Olise also had a spell at Stamford Bridge during his youth career. 

Malang Sarr shines out of position

Thomas Tuchel raised eyebrows by fielding Sarr and Andreas Christensen as a full-back pairing, with both more comfortable playing in central defence. 

One could hardly tell in Sarr’s case though as the 23-year-old looked perfectly at home flying down the left flank, and he almost assisted the game’s opening goal after playing a superb through ball to N’Golo Kante. 

The Blues boss clearly sees something in him, with left-back candidates Kenedy, Marcos Alonso and Saul Niguez all on the bench. 

Tuchel publicly discussed Sarr’s ‘difficult’ game against Brentford earlier in the season, but the Nice youth product’s versatility could be a game changer between now and the end of the season. 

Romelu Lukaku’s frustration is not over yet

It was another poor afternoon for Lukaku, although the jury is still out regarding whether that is down to his own sub-par form, or his team-mates’ reluctance to provide him with any form of service. 

The Belgian was visibly frustrated in the first half when Sarr attempted to set him free with an overhit pass, and broadly struggled to impose himself on the game. 

In fact, he had registered just two touches of the ball by half-time, one of which was the game’s first kick-off. 

It looked as though he had made amends late on when his vicious shot was parried into the path of Ziyech who poked in the rebound – but VAR soon revealed that the striker had strayed offside. 

Having hit a cumulative 47 league goals for Inter Milan during his two-season spell at the San Siro, the once prolific marksman is still some way off finding the same harmony in west London.

Rudiger reinforces contract urgency

Aside from the occasional flash of danger, Chelsea’s defence largely remained solid at Selhurst Park. 

Antonio Rudiger looked assured as ever alongside Thiago Silva, and he almost opened the scoring in spectacular fashion with a shot from distance in the first half.

Blues fans may have to make the most of it, however, with the German’s contract set to expire at the end of the season. 

Chelsea have so far remained stubborn in the face of supposedly hefty wage demands, but Rudiger once again stated his case for an improved deal against Palace. It remains to be seen whether the club’s hierarchy will respond. 

Pressure eased in top-four hunt

Chelsea almost had to settle for two more dropped points against Palace, which would have been indicative of their troubling run of form. 

But victory calls time on a run which saw them win just one of their previous five Premier League games. 

Their title bid may be a thing of the past, but Saturday’s win will ease the pressure which was being cranked up by the chasing pack as sides vie to nail down Champions League qualification for next season. 

Tuchel and co have little time to enjoy their late winner, however, as their Champions League knockout campaign begins against Lille on Tuesday. 

See also  LIVESTREAM: Chelsea v Crystal Palace - English commentary HD| Emirates FA cup
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