The lineup that Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho trotted out on Saturday against Crystal Palace was far from first choice. When the dust settled, a John Terry own goal cost Chelsea any points on the road trip. After the match, Mourinho conceded that Chelsea’s chance at the Premier League title is gone despite being on top of the table at the end of action on Saturday. It was Mourinho’s lineup choices that sealed the result before the opening kickoff.
The lineup that went out at the starting whistle had no player who could make the final pass into the attacking zone. Palace keeper Julian Speroni was tested several times and was up to the task, but several of these chances came off set pieces. The tactics of Palace manager Tony Pulis, who Mourinho tapped as Manager of the Year prior to the match, took Chelsea off guard. Palace was taking chances, which is unlike their grinding style.
This made them vulnerable to counterattacks, but the lack of Oscar or Willian made the Chelsea offense choppy.
This selection points to Mourinho possibly looking ahead to their Champions League match with Paris Saint-Germain. This is unlike Mourinho as he always says the most important game is the game on hand. Losing to a team they should beat is becoming a trend this year, so one has to wonder how Mourinho is stressing these matches, especially with a chance to move on to the final four of the Champions League. Their losses this year have come against Palace, Stoke City, Aston Villa, Newcastle United and Everton.
The frustration of the match boiled over as Mourinho told a ball boy that some of his players could potentially punch him for not giving a ball quickly. That frustration could mount tomorrow as Liverpool have a chance to go to the top of the table. Obviously Mourinho is not on the hot seat, but if Chelsea have a bad showing midweek against PSG, expect the scrutiny to increase.