Chelsea power past Crystal Palace and flash Premier League title credentials

Alonso, Pulisic and Chalobah on target as Vieira endures miserable first game in charge of Eagles

Chelsea showed off their title credentials on their opening day of the Premier League season with a comprehensive 3-0 win over Crystal Palace at Stamford Bridge.

The reigning champions of Europe opened the scoring courtesy of a free-kick 20 metres out after 27 minutes from Marcos Alonso, before Christian Pulisic's powerful finished made it 2-0 just before the break.

And the icing on the cake came just before the hour mark when Chelsea academy product Trevoh Chalobah smashed home their third from distance to complete a miserable first game in charge at Palace for Patrick Vieira.

Chelsea are earmarked as the side most likely to challenge champions Manchester City for the title and they did nothing to suggest otherwise as they outclassed Palace — even without £97.5-million ($135m) signing Romelu Lukaku who is still observing quarantine restrictions after his move back to London from Inter Milan.

The Blues will face stiffer test in the coming weeks — they face Liverpool, Spurs and Manchester City all before the end of September — but can be pleased with their opening performance.

It was home-grown defender Chalobah's goal that raised the biggest cheers though, having been out on loan for three seasons in England and France.

“It is a dream for a boy like me being here and to play for my home club is unreal,” he said after the match.

“As I was getting closer to the goal I though I might as well shoot and just went for it. I didn't know the ball went in, I did not know what to do. I was over the moon.

“In this moment, I just wanted to enjoy my debut. As a young boy I've always dreamt to play in these games for my club so I made sure I was ready and enjoyed it. I wasn't too nervous.”

For Vieira, it was always going to be a tough start against a side who had just beaten Villarreal in the Uefa Super Cup in Belfast on Wednesday and one of the favourites to win the Premier League.

Nine first-team players followed previous manager Roy Hodgson out the door at Selhurst Park this summer and only one new signing — £18m defender Marc Guehi who moved from Chelsea — started the game.

“It was a tough day,” Vieira said. “It's not easy to accept conceding three goals. But that was a hard one. We are talking about one of the best teams in Europe. All credit to them, they played really well.

“The game showed there is a still a lot of work to be done. We knew it would be challenging today. Chelsea may have 20 international players. We showed the difference between the teams.

“It's about patience, playing from the back but trying to make right decision — knowing if you're under pressure or not.

“We have to keep working, believe in ourselves. We know what we need to improve. The game didn't change the thoughts I had before. We still have to work and improve the squad.

Updated: August 14th 2021, 6:13 PM
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