By Ed Elliot, PA
Chelsea boss Thomas Tuchel underlined the importance of developing youth players after Premier League debutant Trevoh Chalobah enjoyed a “perfect afternoon” in the crushing win over Crystal Palace.
Following a build-up dominated by Romelu Lukaku’s club-record £97.5million move from Inter Milan, rookie defender Chalobah sealed a resounding 3-0 success over the Eagles with a fine second-half strike from distance.
The 22-year-old – loaned out to Ipswich, Huddersfield and French club Lorient in recent times – has a been a surprise inclusion for the Blues having also played in the midweek UEFA Super Cup triumph over Villarreal.
While Tuchel spent his pre-match press conference lauding the qualities of new striker Lukaku, he admits bringing talent through the ranks is equally important.
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“This is not a gift, letting him play; it’s well deserved,” Tuchel said of Chalobah.
“He’s a very humble guy and a very calm guy and he took his chance to show his quality.
“He had a biggest performance against Villarreal for 120 minutes and he is robust enough to play another 90 in the Premier League today.
“And it’s super nice because this is what I truly believe in: we can have the best players from abroad and famous players but it’s also about young guys from the academy who can make it.
“This is very important – to have these young guys and this mix. It was a perfect afternoon for him and you could see that everybody was very, very happy for him.”
Buoyed by the return of Lukaku – who was unavailable due to quarantine restrictions – and Super Cup success, Chelsea dominated throughout as Patrick Vieira endured a miserable start at Palace boss.
Marcos Alonso’s free-kick opened the scoring and it was effectively game over at half-time thanks to Christian Pulisic’s close-range finish, before Chalobah brought further joy to the packed Stamford Bridge stands with more than half an hour remaining.
Tuchel, who once again dismissed suggestions his team are title favourites this term, hailed the thumping victory as “only a start” as they bid to close last season’s 19-point gap to champions Manchester City.
“We were pretty sharp but I think it perhaps looked easier than it actually was,” he said.
“Players stepped up again for us after a tough game in the Super Cup but this is what we expect the level to be for us.
“We want to set our standards as high as possible and always strive to be at that level. We did very well today but it is only a start and we need to build on this.
“It was a huge team effort, both defensively and offensively, and I’m very happy with what we did today.”
New Palace boss Vieira vowed to strengthen his squad following a tough afternoon as he realised a dream of managing in England’s top flight.
The Eagles, who appointed Arsenal great Vieira as replacement for Roy Hodgson last month, never threatened to spring an opening-day upset.
“My goal was to manage a team in the Premier League and today Crystal Palace gave me that opportunity and that was a big moment for me,” said Vieira.
“Obviously, the result was not what I was expecting but when you play against Chelsea – who I believe is one of the best teams in Europe – it’s quite difficult.
“It was a really tough start for us but we have to play them (at some point). Chelsea with the squad they have and the money they spent, they will be there fighting for the titles.
“To be honest, I didn’t learn very much because I knew what we were missing. We are short and we will work hard to improve the squad.”