Chelsea increased the gap between themselves and fifth-placed Arsenal to five points as N’Golo Kante’s second-half strike earned them victory at Crystal Palace.

Kante scored the only goal of the game in the 51st minute when he broke forward from midfield to convert David Luiz’s throughball.

There were few clear-cut chances as the Blues dominated possession and Palace sat back hoping to catch the opposition on the counter-attack – a tactic which failed to work as Roy Hodgson’s Eagles took 85 minutes to register their first effort at goal.

Chelsea’s Willian came close to scoring with a free-kick that struck the post, and Ross Barkley also hit the woodwork with a hooked effort.

Fourth-placed Blues now have 43 points, one behind City and two behind Spurs. Palace remain in 14th with 19 points.

Reassigned Kante sees off Eagles

N'Golo Kante's heatmap

The Kante of 2018-19 is made up of different spec to previous models. Gone is the role of anchor man in midfield – the ball-winner who would allow other midfielders to make forays into the opposition’s final third.

The remodelled version has been given permission to burst forward from the right of a midfield trio. During a largely nondescript opening 45 minutes, he made two runs into the Palace box – the first resulting in a strike that missed Vicente Guaita’s far post by two feet.

Sarri’s perseverance with the tactic paid off six minutes after the break when Kante grabbed his third goal of the season after again breaking from midfield.

This time it was defender Luiz the provider, with a threaded pass that found the Frenchman whose shot had enough power to beat the hand of the former Valencia keeper.

Willian also went close for the Blues with a free-kick that came off the Palace post, while fellow midfielder Barkley hooked a shot from close range that grazed the woodwork.

It was a competent if unremarkable display from Sarri’s side, but they did not have to break sweat against a lifeless Palace attack.

Defensive Palace forget to attack

This was an utterly forgettable display by Palace.

They defended admirably but appeared to show little desire to put pressure on the opposition backline.

Their first effort on goal came in the 85th minute when Wilfried Zaha fired wide and high, before substitute Connor Wickham’s strike from six yards resulted in a similar outcome.

Hodgson grimaced from the sidelines as must have the Palace supporters inside Selhurst Park.

More to follow.

Line-ups

Crystal Palace

  • 31Guaita
  • 29Wan-Bissaka
  • 5Tomkins
  • 12Sakho
  • 3van Aanholt
  • 10Townsend
  • 18McArthur
  • 4Milivojevic
  • 8KouyatéSubstituted forMeyerat 78′minutes
  • 15SchluppSubstituted forWickhamat 69′minutes
  • 11Zaha

Substitutes

  • 2Ward
  • 6Dann
  • 7Meyer
  • 13Hennessey
  • 14J Ayew
  • 21Wickham
  • 42Puncheon

Chelsea

  • 1Arrizabalaga
  • 28Azpilicueta
  • 2Rüdiger
  • 30David Luiz
  • 3AlonsoBooked at 10mins
  • 7Kanté
  • 5Jorginho
  • 8BarkleySubstituted forKovacicat 88′minutes
  • 22WillianSubstituted forEmersonat 82′minutes
  • 18GiroudSubstituted forMorataat 76′minutes
  • 10E Hazard

Substitutes

  • 13Caballero
  • 17Kovacic
  • 21Zappacosta
  • 27Christensen
  • 29Morata
  • 33Emerson
  • 44Ampadu
Referee:
Craig Pawson

Match Stats

Home TeamCrystal PalaceAway TeamChelsea
Possession
Home34%
Away66%
Shots
Home4
Away12
Shots on Target
Home0
Away4
Corners
Home3
Away4
Fouls
Home11
Away8

Live Text

Match ends, Crystal Palace 0, Chelsea 1.

Full Time

Second Half ends, Crystal Palace 0, Chelsea 1.

César Azpilicueta (Chelsea) wins a free kick in the attacking half.

Foul by Wilfried Zaha (Crystal Palace).

Foul by N’Golo Kanté (Chelsea).

Max Meyer (Crystal Palace) wins a free kick on the left wing.

Attempt missed. Connor Wickham (Crystal Palace) left footed shot from the centre of the box is too high. Assisted by James Tomkins with a headed pass following a set piece situation.

Foul by Mateo Kovacic (Chelsea).

Luka Milivojevic (Crystal Palace) wins a free kick on the right wing.

Substitution

Substitution, Chelsea. Mateo Kovacic replaces Ross Barkley.

Emerson (Chelsea) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

Foul by Wilfried Zaha (Crystal Palace).

Attempt missed. Wilfried Zaha (Crystal Palace) right footed shot from the left side of the box is high and wide to the right. Assisted by James McArthur.

Corner, Crystal Palace. Conceded by Jorginho.

Attempt blocked. Patrick van Aanholt (Crystal Palace) right footed shot from the left side of the box is blocked. Assisted by Wilfried Zaha.

Offside, Crystal Palace. Max Meyer tries a through ball, but Wilfried Zaha is caught offside.

Substitution

Substitution, Chelsea. Emerson replaces Willian.

Substitution

Substitution, Crystal Palace. Max Meyer replaces Cheikhou Kouyaté.

Marcos Alonso (Chelsea) wins a free kick on the left wing.

Foul by Andros Townsend (Crystal Palace).

Substitution

Substitution, Chelsea. Álvaro Morata replaces Olivier Giroud because of an injury.

Delay over. They are ready to continue.

Delay in match Olivier Giroud (Chelsea) because of an injury.

Offside, Chelsea. Willian tries a through ball, but Olivier Giroud is caught offside.

Marcos Alonso (Chelsea) wins a free kick on the left wing.

Foul by Aaron Wan-Bissaka (Crystal Palace).

Ross Barkley (Chelsea) wins a free kick in the attacking half.

Foul by Connor Wickham (Crystal Palace).

Eden Hazard (Chelsea) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

Foul by Cheikhou Kouyaté (Crystal Palace).

Foul by Olivier Giroud (Chelsea).

Mamadou Sakho (Crystal Palace) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

Substitution

Substitution, Crystal Palace. Connor Wickham replaces Jeffrey Schlupp.

Corner, Chelsea. Conceded by Luka Milivojevic.

Attempt blocked. Ross Barkley (Chelsea) right footed shot from outside the box is blocked. Assisted by N’Golo Kanté.

Attempt saved. Willian (Chelsea) right footed shot from the left side of the box is saved in the centre of the goal. Assisted by Eden Hazard.

Offside, Crystal Palace. James McArthur tries a through ball, but Wilfried Zaha is caught offside.

Foul by Marcos Alonso (Chelsea).

Wilfried Zaha (Crystal Palace) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

Goal!

Goal! Crystal Palace 0, Chelsea 1. N’Golo Kanté (Chelsea) left footed shot from the centre of the box to the centre of the goal. Assisted by David Luiz with a through ball.

goal

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