Chelsea player Conor Gallagher frustrated Pep Guardiola on Saturday as Crystal Palace clinched a 2-0 victory at the Etihad Stadium to give the Blues a five-point lead over Man City.
When Thomas Tuchel decided to loan the 21-year-old to Palace at the start of the season, few would have singled out him as a potential major player in Chelsea’s bid to be crowned Premier League champion, but his goal and his assists against City could prove crucial – not to mention the fact that he has also helped London rivals Blues, Tottenham Hotspur and West Ham, drop points this season.
Gallagher may well be Chelsea’s secret weapon as they seek to clinch their first league title since the 2016/17 season.
The Eagles have played excellent football this season, although their impressive performances may not have been rewarded with as many points as their performances deserved.
That being said, Palace entered Saturday’s game with full confidence after taking points in their clashes with Leicester, Arsenal, West Ham and Spurs, while Patrick Vieira’s men posed to Liverpool their fair share of problems before losing 3-0 at Anfield.
Pep Guardiola’s side held an 11-point lead over Vieira’s new-look Eagles ahead of the Etihad game, but City did not do everything they wanted after losing 1-0 in the opening six minutes . The goal came after Gallagher pressed high on the pitch to retrieve the ball before dragging Wilfried Zaha to goal and the Ivorian international did the rest.
Just before half-time, City’s task became even more difficult when Aymeric Laporte received a direct red card. With City then pushing for an equalizer, Gallagher, who had not stopped running the entire game, joined a counterattack with a late run into the box before scoring his third league goal of the season to seal the three. points.
I’m sure the goal would have meant a lot to him being a Chelsea fan as a child and knowing what Palace victory could mean in terms of the title race.
Despite the talents of Zaha and a resurgent Christian Benteke, it was Gallagher who was the main talking point among Palace fans after impressing in the early months of the season.
And it wasn’t just palace worshipers who praised the youngster, with Sky Sports specialist Gary Neville also taking the opportunity to identify the youngster’s recent performances.
“I liked his energy. I liked his commitment to go and squeeze the ball, “Neville said during televised analysis of Palace’s game against Arsenal on October 18.” I thought when he received the ball he used it. I thought he was great for Crystal Palace.
“You need players on your team who are out of possession to get the ball back, to do the tough jobs are going to be brave and to ride the ball in the Premier League.”
Like you, we never tire of Chelsea! This is why we have decided to complete our extensive coverage of Chelsea on football.london with a more fan-focused platform aimed specifically at Chelsea fans – CareFreeChelsea.
Writers and animators who share your passion for the Blues will produce written, visual and audio content to reflect the atmosphere in the stands as well as in the press gallery.
Gallagher is proving capable of becoming a one-man engine room for a Premier League side this season, with his relentless pressing and late darts into the box also aiding his side’s offensive exit. At this rate, I wouldn’t be shocked if Palace wanted to make Gallagher’s move a permanent one next summer.
Chelsea faced Palace on the opening weekend of the season and convincingly beat them thanks to goals from Marcos Alonso, Christian Pulisic and Trevoh Chalobah.
Looking back on that game, with Gallagher unable to play against his parent club and Palace not yet fully adjusting to Vieira’s style of play, it may have had a huge impact on the end result.
Not only have the Eagles been tasked with playing under new management this season, but they’ve also been forced to deal with a massive squad overhaul, with as many as 30 players leaving Selhurst Park over the summer.
Some shrewd deals in the transfer market have helped add a much-needed quality to the Vieira squad and drastically lowered the average age of the squad.
Former Chelsea defender Marc Guehi joined Palace this summer alongside Joachim Andersen, Odsonne Edouard, Michael Olise and Will Hughes, and now they’ve had time to freeze February’s rematch at Selhurst Park could be a big deal tighter.
Vieira seems to be building something special at the Palace and Gallagher is certainly at the heart of his efforts. As long as Chelsea’s lender inflicts misery on the Blues’ title rivals, Tuchel’s offer for Premier League glory should be fine.
Do you think Gallagher has a future at Chelsea? Follow our editor CareFreeChelsea Scott (Young People Without Worries) on Twitter to join the discussion and give us your feedback in the comments section below.