Chelsea didn’t have a single shot until first-half stoppage time at Selhurst Park, despite having almost 80 per cent possession. It was one of the worst halves of the season following the club’s best performance away at Aston Villa in the FA Cup last week.
Chelsea made just one enforced change against Palace as Thiago Silva came in for Benoit Badiashile, who picked up a groin injury at Villa Park, but the team was unrecognisable early on.
Jefferson Lerma stuck a 20-yard effort beyond goalkeeper Djordje Petrovic to give his side a deserved lead in the 30th minute, before Chelsea were transformed after the break and Conor Gallagher quickly equalised before popping up again alongside Enzo Fernandez in a dramatic late turnaround.
Standard Sport’s Nizaar Kinsella was at Selhurst Park to pick out three key talking points from the match.
Pochettino must learn Palmer lesson
Cole Palmer was lost up front, Gallagher was flat, Nicolas Jackson was simply not in the game and Noni Madueke, who had some good moments, made the error which led to Lerma’s goal.
Madueke was substituted at half-time, with Christopher Nkunku getting on for the second half.
Chelsea need to accept that Palmer is not their best option as a leading striker, and Madueke might be dropped longer-term after his mistake.
Ridiculous refereeing stoppage
Referee Michael Oliver challenged Chelsea by inadvertently causing a five-minute delay to the start of the second half.
He needed to fix his wireless communication system which provides the link to the Video Assistant Referee (VAR).
The farcical incident infuriated Pochettino as Chelsea came out early for the second half.
Chelsea’s second-half revival
Chelsea didn’t let the unplanned stoppage halt their comeback, and from when Jackson kicked off to Gallagher’s volleyed equaliser, not a single Palace player touched the ball.
Gallagher turned in Malo Gusto’s cross, and after Palmer’s 51st-minute shot, the Blues had more attempts than in the entirety of the first half after six impressive minutes.
Palmer was back out in his favoured right-wing spot and was able to influence the game again.
Ben Chilwell, Jackson, Palmer, Axel Disasi and substitute Raheem Sterling had further efforts before Gallagher found another crucial moment.
He swept in Palmer’s cut-back and Enzo Fernandez put gloss on the scoreline with a composed late finish.
Both managers were under pressure ahead of kick-off and this was a crucial victory in Pochettino’s mission to revitalise Chelsea.