Chelsea left it late to secure all three points in the final match of Gameweek 24 at Selhurst Park.
Two injury-time goals settled it after a game performance from an understrength Crystal Palace, who arguably merited a draw at least.
“I think [we deserved it] on the second half. First half, no. First half, we were so disappointed. The performance wasn’t great. We were so slow and we were so flat and very disappointed.
“We all feel very disappointed with the first 45 minutes but in the second half, we started the game how we should start from the first minute. But in the end, I think we deserved the victory.” – Mauricio Pochettino
“We end the game three goals to one, but I don’t think that was a fair reflection on the way the game was played. I think it was particularly harsh on the team today, given the performance they gave and given the level of their determination, their controlled aggression and their attitude.
“I think we deserved to come off this game with at least one point, but we don’t. That’s how we’re going to have to lift our heads and get over [it] and prepare for the next one.” – Roy Hodgson
PALMER’S FAREWELL GIFT?
Cole Palmer (£5.9m) is the second-most-sold midfielder of Gameweek 25 as attention turns to the ‘doublers’ from Liverpool and Manchester City.
An imminent trip to the Etihad, a confirmed blank in Gameweek 26 and a likely blank in Gameweek 29 has further contributed to Palmer being one of the midfield makeweights for Diogo Jota (£8.7m) and co.
Palmer couldn’t be doing much more to make the ‘sell’ more difficult, though.
This double-digit haul against Palace was his sixth since his Gameweek 7 full debut. No Fantasy asset has more in that time.
In fact, no one has scored as many points full stop:
Above: Players sorted by FPL points from Gameweek 7 onwards
It’s not as if he’s performing at an unsustainable level over the season, either: Palmer is not even among the top 20 ‘overachievers’ for non-penalty expected goal involvement (NPxGI).
One thing that looks pretty obvious is that he’s not suited to a centre-forward/false nine role, where he started in Gameweek 24.
Chelsea didn’t have a shot on target in the first 45 minutes, with Nicolas Jackson (£6.8m) and Noni Madueke (£5.3m) ineffective on the wings, and Palmer wasted through the middle.
But Palmer and Gallagher came alive in the second half, with Jackson and substitute Christopher Nkunku (£7.4m) playing up top. With those two occupying the Eagles’ defence, the two midfielders had plenty of joy buzzing around them and picking up space.
Both of Gallagher’s goals, and all three of Palmer’s shots, arrived after the interval.
GUSTO + THIAGO INJURY UPDATE
Palmer claimed two assists for Chelsea’s goals, with the other supplied by Malo Gusto (£4.2m).
He had assisted in the FA Cup last week, too.
Since his current run in the first team started in Gameweek 18, Gusto is fourth among defenders for chances created (12).
Chelsea do have alternatives like Axel Disasi (£4.9m) who can play at right-back even in Reece James‘ (£5.3m) absence but Mauricio Pochettino likes at least one of his full-backs to be attacking, and there’s as much chance of Ben Chilwell (£5.4m) making way on the other flank based on current form.
“I think when we assess Malo Gusto, we brought Malo Gusto to try and compete with Reece James. He’s really, really young, but now with the injury of Reece James, he needs to play and play a lot and compete every single game.
“We can see also some good things and things he needs to improve because he is so young and in the first season in the Premier League. But yes, we are so happy, he was injured also during the season. We play a lot of games with Axel Disasi and Alfie [Gilchrist], using them, but yes, it’s his first season, he’s played a lot and we are happy.” – Mauricio Pochettino
Gusto did walk gingerly off the field of play on Monday evening but his manager wasn’t unduly concerned.
The same can’t be said for Thiago Silva (£5.0m), who exited with a muscular injury.
“We need to assess Thiago Silva tomorrow because he felt something in his groin. Malo, I think, was tired, but it’s not going to be a big problem to be ready at the weekend.” – Mauricio Pochettino
EAGLES SPIRITED BUT LIMITED
The Eagles were spirited and dogged at the back but, unsurprisingly given the creative flair that was missing, didn’t carve out much of quality.
Their solitary strike was a humdinger of a goal from Jefferson Lerma (£4.7m) from distance, while they failed to register a single ‘big chance’ for the third Gameweek in four.
In this season of few clean sheets, an Eze-and-Olise-less Palace are probably who you’d want to be facing right now.