• Defender Joel Ward netted the winner as Crystal Palace beat Chelsea 2-1
  • Chelsea failed to secure first clean sheet of Premier League title defence
  • Jose Mourinho’s defence were repeatedly exposed by Crystal Palace attack
  • John Terry was suspended for Blues following sending off at West Brom
  • The partnership of Kurt Zouma and Gary Cahill in defence was vulnerable

Kieran Gill for MailOnline

This was begging for Chelsea’s defence to show Jose Mourinho why he does not need to make a panic purchase before the transfer window shuts on Tuesday. They did nothing of the sort.

Chelsea were without captain John Terry who didn’t miss a single minute last season and, at the fourth attempt, failed to secure their first clean sheet of their Barclays Premier League title defence.

Their back four were repeatedly exposed by a Crystal Palace attack that left hearts in mouths whenever they surged forward, and Chelsea only have themselves to blame.

Chelsea defender Kurt Zouma (left) challenges with Crystal Palace striker Connor Wickham for the ball

Chelsea defender Kurt Zouma (left) challenges with Crystal Palace striker Connor Wickham for the ball

Gary Cahill returned to the Chelsea line-up to partner Zouma in central-defence for Premier League champions

Gary Cahill returned to the Chelsea line-up to partner Zouma in central-defence for Premier League champions

This was Mourinho’s 100th Barclays Premier League game at Stamford Bridge, and the Chelsea manager had lost just one out of his previous 99.

Worried that Palace would leave another black mark on his near-perfect record, Mourinho admitted at Friday’s press conference that he had been focusing on defensive work at their Cobham training ground this week. It did no good.

Kurt Zouma and Gary Cahill were at the heart of Chelsea’s defence, but made vulnerable by the gaping space in front of them where Cesc Fabregas and Nemanja Matic were so controlling last season.

When fit, few disagree that Terry should play. The more pressing question has been whether he should be partner to Cahill, Zouma or a new addition, whether that be Everton’s John Stones or Monaco’s Aymen Abdennour.

Mourinho put Zouma to the right of the centre back pairing – a position usually held by Cahill – and it offered much-needed protection for Branislav Ivanovic.

Chelsea were against an attack packed with pace – Bakary Sako, Jason Puncheon and Wilfried Zaha were relentless behind Connor Wickham.

Captain John Terry watched from behind the dugout following his red card in last week's win at West Brom

Captain John Terry watched from behind the dugout following his red card in last week’s win at West Brom

Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho watches from the touchline as his side compete with Crystal Palace

Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho watches from the touchline as his side compete with Crystal Palace

Ivanovic, Terry’s replacement as captain, has been vulnerable and, in the 25th minute, his ill-disciplined urge to maraud down the wing was found out by Palace. Sako took advantage of the open space at right back and, with Zouma closing, his low shot had to be saved by goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois.

Just four minutes later Yohan Cabaye should have scored. A gaping hole between Cahill and Cesar Azpilicueta was exposed, and Courtois was lucky the former Paris Saint-Germain midfielder’s effort was directly at him.

If anything, it only got more intense before the breakthrough. A self-inflicted mix-up in defence here, an exposed pocket of space on the left wing there.

England star Cahill  saw a header cleared off line in second half but couldn't help his side avoid a defeat

England star Cahill saw a header cleared off line in second half but couldn’t help his side avoid a defeat

Diego Costa reacts angrily by pushing Eagles defender Damien Delaney during their Premier League clash 

Diego Costa reacts angrily by pushing Eagles defender Damien Delaney during their Premier League clash 

Yannick Bolasie, on as a substitute, took advantage down the left wing. He crossed for Sako, whose initial shot was superbly blocked by Azpilicueta, before the forward made his rebound count.

Palace’s second was even more embarrassing for a club who prided themselves on winning the title from the back last season. A cross by Bolasie, a cut back by Sako, a finish by Joel Ward, and there was the winner.

Perhaps the finger of blame can be pointed at Mourinho. Replacing Azpilicueta with Brazilian forward Kenedy at left back, for example, can only bring about questions for arguably the world’s most famous football manager.

Yet again, dreadful defending cost Chelsea, who now find themselves eight points behind pacesetters Manchester City. 

Crystal Palace star Wilfried Zaha had a relatively quiet game for his side and was replaced by Yannick Bolasie

Crystal Palace star Wilfried Zaha had a relatively quiet game for his side and was replaced by Yannick Bolasie

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