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Chelsea find new double act in Luton win as four Pochettino stars sweat | Football | Sport

Chelsea recorded back-to-back Premier League victories for just the second time this season as they won 3-2 away to Luton on Saturday afternoon. Man of the moment Cole Palmer capitalised on an early Issa Kabore error to give the visitors the lead after 12 minutes, before Noni Madueke doubled their advantage before half-time and Palmer got another to seal the three points with a very composed finish. They just about kept the hosts at bay despite a late flurry and goals from former Blue Ross Barkley and Elijah Adebayo, battling hard against a Luton team that can take plenty of positives despite their defeat. Here, Express Sport takes a look at the game’s biggest talking points, including one defender making a Liverpool icon eat their words.

Cole Palmer is indispensable

Whether he is wide on the right or playing in a central road, Palmer is continuing to prove why he is one of the first names on Mauricio Pochettino’s teamsheet. He is the heartbeat of any positive Chelsea play and took it upon himself to get them going in a difficult atmosphere at Kenilworth Road.

He initially played Nicolas Jackson through with a fine through ball, but when the ball fell kindly at his feet on the edge of the box after Kabore had misplaced his pass, Palmer did not hesitate and rifled his effort past Thomas Kaminski.

The former Manchester City starlet played Madueke in for Chelsea’s second and then turned scorer once again with 20 minutes remaining. Palmer took the ball around the Luton goalkeeper and had the composure to wait and let the defenders around him fall in their attempts to prevent a certain goal, before cooly placing it in the back of the net. Lionel Messi-esque.

Noni Madueke joins Palmer in double act

Madueke is making quite the impression having now scored in back-to-back games, sealing all three points in Chelsea’s 2-1 win over Crystal Palace on Wednesday with a very late penalty.

He was given the nod on the right again in only his second league start of the season but quickly repaid Pochettino’s trust by firing in Chelsea’s second goal. Even though the visitors had a comfortable lead thanks to Palmer’s effort, Luton had grown into the game and were the likelier of the two sides to get the next goal.

But after Palmer had played in Madueke on the edge of the box, he shuffled the ball to his weaker right foot and powered a shot past Kaminski to stake his claim for a bigger role in the team.

Ross Barkley proves point to Chelsea

Barkley may have some sore feelings towards Chelsea after he was continuously overlooked during his time at Stamford Bridge. Since moving to Luton his career has been rejuvenated and his talents were once again on show on Saturday.

The 30-year-old offered a calming presence in midfield in front of a back three that struggled to play out from the back, in addition to being Rob Edwards’ most creative player. Barkley could harbour some resentment over his time at Chelsea and showcased why he could have played some sort of role for the Blues instead of watching on from the sidelines.

He even took to showboating in the first half as the Chelsea midfield – including a £110million Moises Caicedo – struggled to get close to Barkley and he would be the Luton player to score with 10 minutes remaining when his near-post header beat Dordje Petrovic.

Thiago Silva shuts up Liverpool icon

Thiago Silva returned to the Chelsea defence for the trip to Luton and showed once again exactly why Pochettino continues to put his faith in the veteran defender.

The 39-year-old kept Luton’s forwards at bay and made several vital interventions, especially as the hosts bombarded the Blues penalty area from set-pieces, proving Liverpool icon Steve Nicol wrong after the pundit claimed that he was unable to keep up with the demands at such a high level.

“Thiago Silva has been magnificent as a player, but now the problem for me is he can’t move his feet quick enough”, Nicol told ESPN. “I think his brain’s still working, but when you can’t move your feet, it takes too long. And when you’re playing against players like today and Man United, who just couldn’t wait to close the ball down, couldn’t wait to put you under pressure, then you end up getting caught with the ball and you make rash decisions and you give the ball away.”

Silva may well have taken that criticism personally and his performance showcased that even as one of the league’s oldest players, his place in the team is made on merit, even though he will be disappointed to have conceded twice after his battling performance.

Four at risk after Madueke impresses

With Madueke stepping into the team from being out in the cold, there is more competition for fellow Chelsea forwards Christopher Nkunku, Raheem Sterling, Mykhaylo Mudryk and Ian Maatsen.

All four started the match on the bench and Chelsea were still able to claim an impressive win on the road without them. With Palmer moving into ‘undroppable’ status under Pochettino, if he is joined by Madueke then others will be left sweating.

Maatsen is already considering his future with the Dutchman’s contract up at the end of the season. With Madueke gaining a bigger role in the team it could be the straw that breaks the camel’s back and seals his exit.

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