Cole Palmer rounds off perfect weekend of Premier League football for a bitter Chelsea fan

Will Ford
Palmer Arteta Klopp
Cole Palmer scored four after Liverpol and Arsenal lost. Perfect.

Cole Palmer did *that* after Tottenham, Liverpool and Arsenal all lost. Turns out football can still be joyous for Chelsea fans.

In order to feel joy through football these days – unless I focus entirely on Cole Palmer (which I will do very shortly) – as a Chelsea fan I’ve mostly been forced to source my jollies vicariously, generally through the sorrow of rival fans. In those entirely saddistic terms of enjoyment, this weekend could not have gone better.

Manchester United drew and West Ham lost, which is good for Chelsea’s hopes of European qualification, but those results paled in the pleasure stakes to Tottenham being spanked by Newcastle, before – joy of joys – both Liverpool and Arsenal lost to hand Manchester City the advantage in the title race.

For clarification, I recognise that I should – on a moral basis – have been cheering on Spurs against one nation state, and both Liverpool and Arsenal against the other, but it turns out a significant flaw in my character has rendered my morals inconsequential in such circumstances, with my desire for schadenfreude and ability to be bitter, petty and vindictive far outstripping any trait to be proud of.

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Chelsea playing football posed a significant threat to my ecstasy. Having dropped points against Brentford, Burnley and Sheffield United since the start of March, Everton at Stamford Bridge looked sure to provide further painful viewing. But if anything, against all the odds, my own football club granted even more joy than the pain of others. Maybe I’m growing as a person, or maybe Cole Palmer is just that good at football.

He scored a perfect hat-trick in 29 minutes, his second in two games at home, with his last two goals in the incredible turnaround against Manchester United meaning he had scored five goals in 31 minutes at Stamford Bridge. Having added a penalty in the second half to make it four having won it himself, Palmer is now level with Erling Haaland in the race for the Golden Boot on 20 goals and level with Ollie Watkins in goal contributions on 29.

No one has scored more than his 23 goals in a season for Chelsea since Didier Drogba in 2009/10, and only Drogba, Nicolas Anelka and Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink have scored more in a single season for the Blues in the Premier League era.

He’s already scored more goals for Chelsea than Andriy Shevchenko (22) in 39 fewer games and the same number as Timo Werner in 51 fewer. If we exclude his 600-odd minutes for Manchester City, he’s reached 20 Premier League goals in fewer games (28) than Alan Shearer (29), with only seven players in history – Erling Haaland (14), Kevin Phillips (21), Andy Cole (23), Ruud van Nistelrooy (26), Diego Costa (26), Tony Yeboah (26) and Fernando Torres (27) – achieving the feat in quicker time. The numbers are ridiculous, and so were two of his goals.

The nutmeg, flick to Nicolas Jackson and curled finish for the first was typical of his football all season, combining fleet of foot and precise finishing on his favoured side. His hat-trick goal was arguably more impressive, as he read Jordan Pickford’s intention and intercepted his pass before lofting a shot with his right foot straight into the back of the net from 35+ yards out. Most wouldn’t even have attempted it with their weaker foot, and probably would have spurned the opportunity as a result.

If Palmer doesn’t win the PFA Player of the Year he should come very close, because surely no player – not William Saliba, not Phil Foden, not Virgil van Dijk – has had more of an impact on their team this season. Arsenal, Manchester City or Liverpool may not be in the title race without their star men, but they would at the very least be vying for Champions League qualification.

📣 TO THE COMMENTS! Have Arsenal and Liverpool really blown it while two points behind City? Join the debate here

Chelsea are somehow now three points off sixth with a game in hand. Palmer has been the difference between them challenging for Europe and this game against Everton at Stamford Bridge being a relegation six-pointer. He’s been a phenomenon, and if not the player of the season, surely the best signing of it.

Nicolas Jackson also scored a very fine goal, and as if to tip the joy scales into absolute jubilation, before being sold in a year’s time for sweet pure profit, local lad Alfie Gilchrist came off the bench to score his first goal for the club, and celebrated accordingly.

What a game. What a weekend. Turns out not all joy comes second hand, but I’ll continue to take it where I can.

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