Chelsea manager Antonio Conte and Gary Cahill celebrate their 1-0 win against Crystal Palace

It's an Oyster card Christmas



Chelsea manager Antonio Conte (left) and Gary Cahill celebrate their 1-0 win against Crystal Palace. PICTURE: ACTION IMAGES

Tim Harrison
Tim Harrison

By Tim Harrison

The Gooners invented the hypnotic, if repetitive, chant ‘One-nil to the Arsenal’, but it could be commandeered by the Blues as ‘One-nil to the Chelsea boys’ after a trio of 1-0 victories.

Success at Selhurst Park, against a wily Alan Pardew side determined to make life difficult, means Chelsea are top of the tree at Christmas.

And it’s a festive season that fans only need an Oyster card to enjoy after 11 wins on the trot – a club record for a single season.

With successive games at Palace, the Bridge, the Bridge again, Spurs and the Bridge yet again, Blues fans do not have to leave Swinging London for an entire month.

Although Diego Costa – whose 44th-minute deadlock-breaker was, surprisingly, Chelsea’s first headed goal of the season – picked up a booking that means he misses the visit of Bournemouth on Boxing Day, it’s probably not a bad game to skip.

N’Golo Kante will also be absent thanks to a fifth booking, but that should give Cesc Fabregas the start he deserves on current form.

He came on as sub for Willian after 64 minutes at Palace, helping the Blues see out the game.

It was a match which again showed how important it was to rehire David Luiz in the summer.

Fans gasped in disbelief at what seemed a panic buy, but Luiz is proving a mature leader in defence, even if Gary Cahill has the captain’s armband.

Luiz is a dependable header of the ball, clearing the lines when long balls loop in and usually finding a team-mate with his bonce.

The first choice as a new defender had been John Stones… but his indifferent form at Manchester City (and for England) suggests Luiz was right all along.

Tony Conte’s heartfelt applause of the Chelsea fans at the final whistle at Palace underlines a mutual bond. It looks like 2017 will be some year.

The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and unless specifically stated are not necessarily those of Hammersmith & Fulham Council.

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