Tammy Abraham and Christian Pulisic sent Chelsea six-mad as they saw off Crystal Palace .
The pair extended his side’s winning run in the Premier League to six games – the first time the Blues have gone on such a sequence since winning the title two years ago.
Abraham opened the scoring from close range, released by Willian’s cheeky flick, seven minutes after half time. The strike was his tenth of the season and made him the top-flight’s joint-leading scorer with Leicester ’s Jamie Vardy.
Pulisic headed the second with just 11 minutes left, reacting fastest after substitute Michy Batshuayi’s shot was blocked in the box. The goal was the American’s fourth in the Premier League this season.
Defeat for Palace means Roy Hodgson’s side are now winless in their last four, conceding eight goals.
Abraham shines again
At the start of the season his critics were claiming he wasn’t even Premier League class, let alone good enough to play for Chelsea .
Four months on he is the top-flight’s joint-leading scorer with Jamie Vardy. Abraham will take a special kind of satisfaction in proving the haters wrong. Here he’d had nothing, scraps at best, to feed on before the 52nd chance presented to him courtesy of Willian’s clever flick.
Abraham’s composure in the box has been a thing of beauty this season and served him well again here today.
When he came off for Michy Batshuayi with 18 minutes to go the home fans were singing his name and rightly so.
Zaha threat nullified
He remains Crystal Palace’s most potent weapon but they could hardly get the ball to him during a first half which saw the Eagles needing a ball of their own to play with at times.
When Zaha’s team-mates failed to find him on the occasions they did gain possession, he let him know what he thought of them.
When he wasn’t doing that, he was involved in a fascinating running battle with right-back Reece James. When he wasn’t doing that, he was busy appealing to referee Mike Dean for more protection.
Make no mistake, Zaha was busy in this match – but not in the way that he wanted to be in front of a live TV audience.
Pulisic showing his quality
Captain America is a different player to the early weeks of the season when a his lack of playing time affected his confidence and his performances.
Right from the start here he was in the faces of the Eagles with his quick feet reminiscent of his predecessor Eden Hazard. His 56th-minute run and drive, pushed over the bar by Vicente Guaita, almost had the majority of Stamford Bridge on their feet.
His close range header on 79 minutes did. Pulisic has some way to go before he hits those Hazard heights but his displays right now are suggesting he is very much on the right track.
Emerson in pole position
Right now Frank Lampard would probably be prepared to play at left-back himself rather than risk Marcos Alonso.
The Spaniard gifted Manchester United a penalty as the Reds sent Chelsea crashing out of the Carabao Cup two weeks ago.
In midweek he was so bad he was replaced at half time by young Reece James in the Champions League.
He’ll almost certainly be gone when the transfer window closes at the end of January.
Emerson took his place here and, if he can maintain any kind of consistency, has regular first-team football between now and the end of the season almost certainly guaranteed.
Cahill returns to the Bridge
The ex-Chelsea centre-back quite literally put his body on the line here as he threw himself in front of a goalbound Willian shot shortly before half time. Cahill will have been fired up to play out of his mind on his return to the club where Maurizio Sarri believed he was no longer up to it last season. Sadly, Chelsea had too much class.
Frank Lampard, however, was quick in the Blues programme to give his former team-mate the credit he deserved. Describing Cahill’s Chelsea career as “incredible”, Lampard added: “He joined when I was here as a player and in that year we went onto win the Champions League, and he subsequently won everything.”
In total Cahill lifted two Premier Leagues, the Champions League, two FA Cups, two Europa Leagues and a League Cup with Chelsea. At just £7million he turned out to be an absolute bargain.
Reece James is coming of age
Frank Lampard has a big decision to make with his 19-year-old rising star.
They raved about him at Wigan during his loan spell there last season. Here the wider public were able to see what the fuss is all about. James was outstanding.
Palace’s best player, Wilfried Zaha, was left firmly in the teenager’s pocket and Lampard must now decide whether to slot the more experienced Cesar Azpilicueta back into this team or allow James the first-team action that will turn his towering potential into lasting quality. He should go for the latter.