Chelsea’s 2-1 victory against stuttering Crystal Palace at the weekend was just the tonic the team needed ahead of the Champions League game at Barcelona in midweek, following defeats against the two Manchester sides.
Olivier Giroud had an excellent game for the Blues on Saturday, and was desperately unlucky not to score – striking the post and having a shot cleared off the line.
Meanwhile, Willian’s purple patch continues.
Chelsea would be looking at mid-table mediocrity without his performances in 2018; he shone when others merely turned up.
The Blues took the lead after 25 minutes, Willian opting to send a shot past Wayne Hennessey’s nearside, instead of the far top corner as 40,000 people in Stamford Bridge would have predicted. It slid in, off the post.
The Bridge, now illuminated with the new mission statement ‘Thrilling since 1905’, was able to relax seven minutes later after a Davide Zappacosta cross was farcically pinballed into the net off two Palace players for 2-0.
It almost justified the new slogan, although some wags said that a more accurate phrase might be ‘Thrilling from time to time since 1905’.
Wilfried Zaha’s arrival at the start of the second half changed the dynamics of the game, and gave Palace (supported, as ever, by the noisiest fans at the Shed end) real hope.
Ex-Blue Patrick van Aanholt gave the Eagles a glimmer by nutmegging Thibaut Courtois in the 90th minute, but it was too late for a comeback.
Next up, Barcelona in Spain on Wednesday night, then Leicester in the FA Cup at 4.30pm on Sunday… a match live on BBC 1.