Chelsea flop as Willian, Batshuayi endure miserable day at Crystal Palace
Chelsea slumped to a shock 2-1 defeat at Selhurst Park as Crystal Palace, pointless and goalless in the Premier League before this encounter, deservedly took the spoils.
A Cesar Azpilicueta own goal handed the advantage to Palace in the 11th minute and although Tiemoue Bakayoko headed the Blues level shortly after, the home side were always more up for it.
A shocking lapse of concentration by Willian on the stroke of half time culminated in Wilfried Zaha scoring what turned out to be the winner.
Bakayoko, 23, turned in a spirited performance that suggests youth may be the solution to Chelsea's malaise. Antonio Rudiger and Andreas Christensen would almost certainly have coped better with Zaha, who was made to look like Lionel Messi by the ineptness of Gary Cahill and David Luiz. If Antonio Conte realises that following this defeat, then it has to be a positive.
There can be no excuses for what was a spineless display that made a mockery out of Chelsea's status as champions. Without N'Golo Kante shielding the defence and Alvaro Morata in attack, Conte looks to have a major problem. With both players likely to remain on the sidelines a while longer, there may be more frustration ahead.
Manager rating out of 10
3 -- The Chelsea manager will be left ruing his team selection and tactics. The decisions to reinstate Luiz to his back three and field Michy Batshuayi as striker looked flawed from the start and it's astonishing that he allowed Willian to play on well into the second half after a woeful opening 45 minutes.
Last season, Conte had a Plan B which got Chelsea out of a hole and won the title. This time around, the Italian looks to be as short on ideas as most of his players do on motivation.
Player ratings (1-10, 10 = best, players introduced after 70 minutes get no rating)
GK Thibaut Courtois, 7 -- A far busier afternoon for the Chelsea keeper than he could ever have expected. Made a string of decent saves throughout and can point the finger of blame at those in front of him for both Palace goals.
DF Cesar Azpilicueta, 4 -- Unfortunate to get on the score-sheet for the wrong reasons when diverting a Yohan Cabaye shot into his own goal, Azpilicueta endured a difficult afternoon. Lacked usual positional awareness and matters weren't helped by the slipshod performances of his defensive partners.
DF David Luiz, 3 -- Back following a three-match suspension, Luiz failed to repay the manager's faith in selecting him. Arguably the weakest link in Chelsea's defence, the Brazilian was constantly exposed by the pace of Andros Townsend and Zaha.
DF Gary Cahill, 3 -- Guilty of a dereliction of duty in his role as Chelsea captain, Cahill failed to rally his team and inspire any confidence. If that wasn't bad enough, the centre-back's defending was constantly shown up to be rudderless and flat-footed.
MF Victor Moses, 4 -- Had little impact on the game prior to sustaining a hamstring injury before half time.
MF Marcos Alonso, 6 -- Probed the left flank with plenty of industry and might have added to his tally of two league goals for the season but for Palace keeper Julian Speroni pulling off an outstanding save.
MF Tiemoue Bakayoko, 7 -- Having scored his first goal for Chelsea in the Champions League against Qarabag last month, Bakayoko suggested that he might celebrate opening his Premier League account by dying his hair blue. Hopefully the midfielder will see sense and refuse to do so -- the fans won't want to be reminded about losing to the top flight's bottom side.
MF Cesc Fabregas, 7 -- Chelsea's assist king sent a superb corner for Bakayoko's equaliser and carried the greatest threat going forward, striking the bar with a shot just after the break. Always did his best to get things moving.
FW Willian, 2 -- Having flown back midweek from South America and World Cup qualifying duty with Brazil, Willian's performance had shades of jetlag about it. A tepid first half culminated in the 29-year old feebly losing possession to Mamadou Sakho and Palace retook the lead through Zaha as a consequence. Replaced 20 minutes too late in the second half, this was by some distance Willian's worst game in a Chelsea shirt.
FW Eden Hazard, 3 -- Largely anonymous for the majority of the game, Hazard appeared to lack the motivation to stand up and be counted in the way every Palace player did. Had a chance late on to equalise but failed to connect with a fantastic cross by Davide Zappacosta, an opportunity perhaps the Belgium international would have met and converted last season.
FW Michy Batshuayi, 3 -- Afforded a start by Conte given Morata's absence through injury, Batshuayi failed to register a single shot on goal and did next to nothing to try and get into the game as his teammates proved ineffective providing service. Hauled off by Conte before the hour mark, it's hard to see the Italian trusting him to lead the line again.
MF Davide Zappacosta, 6 -- Provided Chelsea with greater impetus on the right flank when replacing the injured Moses and has the opportunity now for an extended run in the side.
FW Pedro, 6 -- Replaced Batshuayi and played with the type of energy and verve that was inexplicably lacking elsewhere in Chelsea's team.
FW Charly Musonda, 5 -- Replaced the ineffective Willian. Failed to make the most of two gilt-edged chances to score and subsequently may find himself back on the periphery of Conte's thinking.
Mark Worrall is one of ESPN FC's Chelsea bloggers. You can follow him on Twitter: @gate17marco