Chelsea finally seeing midfield goals in Monday Night Football win at Crystal Palace – Premier League hits and misses

Sky Sports’ football writers assess the Premier League action from Sunday and Monday; Chelsea finally see midfield goals; Arsenal show their title credentials; Man Utd’s unlikely lads step up as questions are asked of Unai Emery and David Moyes

Chelsea finally seeing goals from midfield

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FREE TO WATCH: Highlights from Crystal Palace against Chelsea in the Premier League

It has been the age-old storyline this season – Chelsea failing to take their chances, lacking goals to win games and that instinctive No 9 that can tuck them away.

But it looks like we may be seeing goals from elsewhere to help the cause, particularly from midfield.

Conor Gallagher was Chelsea’s star man at Selhurst Park, as has so often been the case at the ground where he was so influential on loan in the 2021/22 season.

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Image: Enzo Fernandez wrapped up Chelsea's win at Crystal Palace with their third goal in stoppage time

He has now scored more Premier League goals against the Eagles (4) than he has against any other side, while he’s also netted more goals at Selhurst Park (6) than he has at any other venue in the competition.

But his two goals represented his first in the league this season, with his superbly taken first coming with his 29th shot of the campaign – only Tottenham’s Pedro Porro has now had more shots without scoring (37).

Enzo Fernandez too added the third – our tipster Jones Knows backed him to have two or more shots, which he did. One of those was a fine breakaway goal with almost the last kick of the game.

Both also scored in a fine win against Aston Villa in midweek too, showing there are signs of life from Chelsea’s midfield.

The Blues are by no means back to their best – they only had one shot in the first half, which was off target from Gallagher – but if they can start drawing goals from other areas, it would only serve them well as they look to finish the season strongly.
Charlotte Marsh

Crystal Palace show there is life without injured trio

Crystal Palace fans would have forgiven for perhaps dreading a Monday Night Football clash without three of their best players – Eberechi Eze, Michael Olise and Marc Guehi.

Although Chelsea are far from the prospect of old, they still pose numerous dangers – as Crystal Palace would heartbreakingly come to realise – but what the Eagles did do was show there is life even without their talismen.

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The first half especially would have been everything the fans and staff would have wanted from the team. They wanted the ball more than Chelsea, they fought harder, created more and took their chances.

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Roy Hodgson says he believes the Crystal Palace supporters will have seen positive signs in his team’s performance, despite the disappointing result

It saw them leave to a standing ovation at half-time, but could not quite replicate the same form in the second half. This may have been more to do with Chelsea improvement and tactical tweaks, but lapses in their own concentration also hurt them in the end.

But for however long their trio are out for, Crystal Palace have shown they can compete. They will need all the heart they can muster – a lot of it on show on Monday Night Football – to keep themselves from the tail of a relegation battle.
Charlotte Marsh

Rampant Arsenal show their title credentials

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FREE TO WATCH: Highlights from Arsenal’s 6-0 win over West Ham

Having struggled to convert their dominance into goals for much of the season, Arsenal now can’t stop scoring. Their six-goal thrashing of West Ham on Sunday made it 16 in their last four games.

Crystal Palace, Nottingham Forest and Liverpool were swatted aside. But this, their fourth consecutive win, was their most devastating display yet; their biggest away victory in Premier League history and another statement about their credentials.

This is a serious team. Already the best in the league defensively, they have now found a level of cutting edge to match. The game at the London Stadium was just the latest reminder of their potency from set-pieces. But they were rampant from open play too.

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Sky Sports News’ James Savundra and Nick Wright take a deep dive into how Arsenal picked apart West Ham

There is no out-and-out No 9 capable of rivalling Erling Haaland’s scoring exploits, of course. But Arsenal are sharing the goals out. Against West Ham, there were five different scorers. They threatened from all angles. West Ham could not cope.

Bukayo Saka’s double puts him on five goals from his last five Premier League games and he is not the only attacking player to have hit a rich vein of form at what feels like the right time. Leandro Trossard has three in his last four. Gabriel Martinelli too.

The fluidity of their front line was too much for West Ham, with Martin Odegaard orchestrating proceedings and Kai Havertz constantly finding space to exploit. The fact they still have Gabriel Jesus to return from injury is another source of encouragement.
Nick Wright

The unlikely lads stepping up for Man Utd

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FREE TO WATCH: Highlights from the Premier League match between Aston Villa and Manchester United

Manchester United are salvaging what at times has been a calamitous season. Three unlikely lads are helping on that front.

Harry Maguire, Scott McTominay and Diogo Dalot. All three stepped up to the plate at Villa Park in what could just be a victory that completely changes the trajectory of where United are going this season.

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Maguire was given player-of-the-match by Gary Neville – a performance full of grit and aerial dominance in both boxes.

McTominay was the match-winner with a barnstorming header – his seventh goal of the Premier League season, no player has scored more for United.

And, Dalot was exemplary with the ball, including his cross for the McTominay winner. He looks every inch a Manchester United right-back now, even for the longer-term.

All three players have been linked with a move away from the club in the past 18 months but the lure of being a Manchester United player has been too big for them to give up when push came to shove. You can tell they really care playing for the club – and you can’t have too many of those in your squad when trying to build a successful football team.

They have their imperfections but you can’t knock their contributions.
Lewis Jones

Why on earth did Emery take Bailey off?

Image: Lean Bailey gave Man Utd's defene a torrid time

Aston Villa had clawed it back to 1-1 against Manchester United and were pushing for a winner. Looking dangerous and more likely to get the crucial third goal, Unai Emery took Leon Bailey off.

“It was tactical,” he told Sky Sports after the game. The fact he had to answer questions on it says a lot.

Image: Aston Villa dominated attacking threat for most of the game

Bailey was running the show down the Villa right. He set up the equaliser, no Villa player had more successful one-on-ones than him, half-time Man Utd substitute Victor Lindelof was having a torrid time. Gary Neville was calling for Diogo Dalot to swap with Lindelof to stop the tide.

Bringing Bailey off let Man Utd off the hook. Erik ten Hag responded by making a positive substitution himself with matchwinner Scott McTominay. The Man Utd manager won the battle of the dugouts.
Sam Blitz

West Ham’s capitulation increases pressure on Moyes

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Freak results are a part of football, an unavoidable reality. There is, however, a way in which a team can lose on such days. West Ham’s capitulation against Arsenal on Sunday certainly wasn’t that.

Watching Arsenal score four goals in 15 first-half minutes was shocking enough but what made it more jaw-dropping was the inevitability of it all. There was an almost immediate surrender, which Bukayo Saka, scorer of two goals, said Arsenal could sense.

“We smelt blood today and went for the kill,” the 22-year-old told Sky Sports.

David Moyes admitted this was one of the darkest days in his 26 years as a manager, but rightly reminded us that it wasn’t so long ago that they were enjoying some of the best days in the club’s recent history.

The issue he faces is the disconnect he has with the fans who crave a more attacking brand of football. Results like this, despite Moyes’ safety-first approach, don’t help the manager’s cause. The discontent among the naysayers will only grow after this historic defeat.
Zinny Boswell

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