Pochettino’s Chelsea favourite Gallagher going under radar as Palmer draws hype

Cole Palmer is flying at Chelsea after Man City move | Football Digest

Cole Palmer took centre stage of the celebrations as Chelsea celebrated emphatically their fourth goal to clinch an well-deserved point in their thrilling 4-4 draw with Manchester City on Sunday, leading Mauricio Pochettino to praise the attacker’s contributions. But if it wasn’t for one of their unsung heroes behind him, stand-in captain Conor Gallagher, the Blues might have never been within a chance of getting the result they worked so hard for.

Palmer has rightly been heralded as the new star to arrive at Stamford Bridge after a storming start to his Chelsea career. He is yet to reach Eden Hazard or Gianfranco Zola levels of fandom, of course, but the 21-year-old is well on his way after taking a leading role in the west London club’s recent games.

The youngster shouldered huge responsibility when he stepped up to the penalty spot deep into stoppage time with the chance to score against his former club. The pressure was evident, but Palmer was the most composed man in the stadium as he swept home past his former team-mate Ederson.

It was the least he deserved after a fine individual display, in addition to how he inspired his team-mates. Sky Sports pundit Jamie Carragher was left in no doubt over Palmer’s performance and how he has become Chelsea’s ‘main man’ just three months after he had been warming the bench at City.

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“To come into a football club at such a young age with players who have cost so many millions of pounds and saying I’m taking penalties, it shows his confidence,” Carragher said in the studio.

“I admire the fact he’s moved on to Chelsea – he’ll be feeling a lot better in the last four to six weeks at Chelsea than he ever did at City no matter how many medals he picked up there. He’s a major part of this Chelsea team right now – he almost feels like the main man.”

But while Palmer’s contributions have been important to Chelsea’s recent resurgence, with four goals and four assists this season across all competitions, Gallagher has arguably been more pivotal in the engine room.

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With captain Reece James and his deputy Ben Chilwell both out injured, the 23-year-old has taken another step up this season in his responsibilities in assuming the armband. He has led by example with every performance, and if he started the campaign on the fringes of the team, it is clear he is now one of the first names on the teamsheet.

Gallagher looked ready to drop at the final whistle after covering every blade of grass on the Stamford Bridge turf. In the first half, he hassled Ruben Dias and Manuel Akanji as he robbed them of possession and chopped around the ankles of Kyle Walker.

He embodies everything that Pochettino believes football should be: high-intensity pressing, extreme levels of work rate and attacking at every opportunity. That was reflected in his statistics after his all-action performance, registering a 95 per cent pass completion rate, recovering the ball six times, winning three out of four tackles and also coming out on top in six ground duels.

At the other end, his precise delivery made it simple for Thiago Silva to head home their first goal at the near post and his long-range effort stung the hands of Ederson before Nicolas Jackson tapped home the third.

In every area of the pitch, he was influential – but without a goal to his name, it was easy for Gallagher to fly under the radar with his display.

Football fans better get used to hearing Palmer’s name enshrined in gold on many  more occasions this season, but Gallagher should earn his fair share of praise too. He is the warrior in the Chelsea team and exactly the kind of player Pochettino will be desperate for his squad to copy as he looks to build upon a week of vast improvement at Stamford Bridge.

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