5 things we learned as Chelsea thump Crystal Palace

So the relegation party can be cancelled for all those hating Chelsea out there. The Blues looked back to their title winning best with their 3-0 win over high flying Crystal Palace earlier this afternoon.

Though the hosts did indeed cause the champions some problems, goals from Oscar, Diego Costa and Willian secured a win on a miserable day in South London.

The problems caused by Jose Mourinho have simply been excaberbated since his sacking, as the team look revitalised under Guus Hiddink. They are now unbeaten since the Portuguese was axed, though are surely too far off the top four to launch a surprise Champions League assault. Right?

For Palace, on the other hand, they played with the same energy we have rightly lauded this term, but their lack of a focal point in attack really was apparent.

They missed the class of Yohan Cabaye and the boundless dynamism of Yannick Bolaise, but the Eagles can look back on an amazing year under Alan Pardew.

Here are FIVE things we learned as Chelsea brushed off Crystal Palace.

YOU CAN COUNT ON KURT

Kurt Zouma (centre)

The Chelsea defence has been lambasted this term, and rightly so, for their utter lack of application and the fact they have been breached far too often. John Terry has been written off, while Gary Cahill has looked off the pace.

However, defender Kurt Zouma was excellent today. His recovery pace to deny Palace early on was truly formidable and showed why he is a Premier League champion after all. While any young player is bound to dip in form here and there, the Frenchman has the raw attributes to be one of the finest centre-backs in the world.

DON OBI MIKEL

Mikel

John Obi Mikel has rarely been the most appreciated of Chelsea stars throughout his decade at Stamford Bridge, but the Nigerian midfielder showed exactly he has lasted so long.

The 28-year old was as classy as they come in the holding role, everything Nemanja Matic has failed to bring to the table this season. He broke up play well, dropped back into defence when needed and was a fine distributor all day.

At such a chaotic club, the Nigeria international proved to be a calm head to prevent the pacey counter attacks the likes of Wilfried Zaha and Jason Puncheon are known so well. Shielded John Terry well against their pace.

A LOT OF BARK, NO BITE

Fraizer Camp

Crystal Palace have been a major success this season, but their lack of a natural centre-forward was painfully obvious today. Both Fraizer Campbell and Marouane Chamakh were utilised as spearheads today, but neither were able to breach the Blues backline.

Pardew is surely crying out for a marksman to lead the line. While their array of flying wingers get backsides off seats, their attacks today fell flat due to the absence of a presence stringing everything together.

Connor Wickham, missing today, does provide that somewhat. However, the 22-year old is anything but lethal in front of goal.

As the Eagles look to soar, their dearth in natural centre-forwards surely undermine them.

DIEGO NOT QUITE FINISHED?

Costa

Pantomime villain Diego Costa has often been written off this season, but the Spaniard was unplayable today. In a good way. At last.

In stark contrast to Palace’s failure to trouble the Chelsea rearguard, the controversial forward was everything you would want from a typical centre-forward. To open the scoring, he expertly latched on to a Cesc Fabregas through ball to race through on goal.

Displaying almost Mesut Ozil levels of assist making, he dragged the ball back to the on rushing Oscar to bundle home.

Not to be outdone, the former Atletico Madrid man pounced on a Palace mistake to poach Chelsea’s third and put the game beyond all about.

HIDDINK HOUDINI

Hiddink

It’s unclear what sort of magic Guus Hiddink wields when in charge of the Blues, but he seems to get the best out of them. The vastly experienced Dutchman has again taken a struggling side, dogged by dressing room issues, and returned them to their former glories.

With him in charge, the players look to be enjoying their football once more. What a turnaround. While again, it’s hard to plot just where the upward trajectory can take them, they are surely in great hands as they look to clear up their mess.