Chelsea won all three points at Luton Town to cap up 2023 in fine fashion. Two goals from Cole Palmer and one from Noni Madueke helped the Blues hold on for a 3-2 triumph at Kenilworth Road, despite a late comeback by the Hatters, after four straight road losses.
Mauricio Pochettino’s team started incredibly well after making four changes to the lineup that defeated Crystal Palace, some of which were forced and others more related to rotation. Issa Kabore made a mistake that allowed Palmer to give the Blues an early lead and give the Chelsea player a chance to score.
Palmer scored his sixth Premier League goal of the year with a decisive finish. Pochettino had never lost to a team that had just been promoted to the English Premier League heading into the match, and it did not appear that this record would be broken.
With less than 10 minutes remaining before halftime, Madueke made it 2-0. The winger, who entered the game after winning it against Crystal Palace the previous week, was dangerous the entire afternoon at Kenilworth Road.
The defenders moved the 21-year-old to his supposedly weaker foot, and he unleashed a powerful right-footed shot that struck the roof of the Luton net. Madueke has had a difficult time since joining Chelsea from PSV Eindhoven in January, but he has now truly made an impact on the team.
In a soggy Bedfordshire, though, it was not just his attacking skills that were on display. On the right side, Madueke was defending and tracking back quite effectively, which may not be something that is typically associated with his game.
However, Pochettino made it clear to his team that he wanted a fight with the Hatters, and he got it. That’s what Madueke embodied. He’s obviously been paying attention to Pochettino these past few weeks, and from the outside, it appears like the Argentine is giving him a master class in man-management.
Palmer’s incredible goal in the second half gave the visitors the victory. After turning his marker, Nicolas Jackson did a great job passing the ball to Palmer, who rounded the goalie, waited for the proper opportunity, and then touched it into the net.
The game was virtually won for Chelsea after a major let-off in the away end. Furthermore, they were able to share in the celebration with Palmer and his Blues colleagues.
Unsurprisingly, Elijah Adebayo scored a short while later, and Ross Barkley gave the home team a late lead. Kensington was trembling at Kenilworth Road. Nevertheless, Chelsea managed to hold on, and the home crowd was roaring.
Once more, there were tense moments in the defensive, and Luton could smell blood. To help win the game, Thiago Silva made a number of incredibly important blocks and clearances. However, there was a noticeable increase in anxiety above what was necessary.
Palmer was undoubtedly the highlight of the performance, but Madueke deserves special recognition. The England Under-21 international has given Chelsea’s offence a new angle at a crucial moment. These kinds of opportunities must be continued for him.
Raheem Sterling, who returned from a one-match suspension to start the game on the bench, may not be in for much luck. Even though Sterling had a great season thus far, he really irritated fans on Christmas Eve when, in a one-on-one with Wolves goalie Jose Sa, he failed to pass the ball across goal.
At Kenilworth Road, Sterling could not even manage to go on. He was on the bench when Chelsea’s attack occasionally prospered.
This does not in any way imply that Sterling is not needed at Chelsea. For the rest of the season, the English winger will play a significant role in the team. However, Palmer’s skill and the emergence of players like Mykhailo Mudryk, together with the youthful talent Madueke, may not be the best news for Sterling.