Chelsea 2 Bournemouth 1: That Caicedo goal; Thiago Silva’s sending-off, and Palmer to start at Euros?

Chelsea’s season has ended up delivering more than expected.

Along with an upturn in form and a spot in Europe, Moises Caicedo finishing a troubled first season at Stamford Bridge with a goal from the halfway line must be up there with the most enjoyable moments for the squad and supporters.

Having been — even by Chelsea’s standards — a high-profile, expensive signing last summer, Caicedo has struggled to find a place in this side but took his chance against Bournemouth on Sunday, looping the ball 50 yards over the goalkeeper and defence and into the goal. Lovely to see.

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The final-day clash also further supported the case for Cole Palmer — who set up Raheem Sterling’s goal — to start for England and featured a wonderful send-off for Thiago Silva on a day full of good vibes after a difficult season.

Liam Twomey breaks down the action after Chelsea’s fifth win in a row.

How did Caicedo score that?

Stamford Bridge witnessed Premier League history on Sunday: the first time a player has ever been peer-pressured into scoring an absolute worldie.

Such was the abiding impression from Caicedo’s wondrous shot from the halfway line that opened the scoring for Mauricio Pochettino’s team.

Comparisons will understandably be made with David Beckham against Wimbledon and Wayne Rooney against West Ham, but the sequence that led to it had more in common with how Dejan Stankovic embarrassed Manuel Neuer in a Champions League clash between Inter and Schalke in 2011.

It all began with Bournemouth goalkeeper Neto successfully intercepting a through pass for Sterling, but clearing the ball straight to Caicedo, who was immediately assailed with shouts of ‘SHOOT!’ from Stamford Bridge.

With Neto stranded outside his area, Caicedo took one touch to steady himself before driving the ball with sublime composure over the one Bournemouth defender scrambling to recover and into the bottom of the net.

For UK readers:

What a goal from Caicedo for Chelsea!! 🤯 pic.twitter.com/QUcN7ARqjj — Sky Sports Premier League (@SkySportsPL) May 19, 2024

For US readers:

MOISES CAICEDO, THAT IS STUNNING. His first Chelsea goal comes from the halfway line. 😱 pic.twitter.com/oELXA56tgm — NBC Sports Soccer (@NBCSportsSoccer) May 19, 2024

Cole Palmer to start for England at Euros?

Let us begin by saying this was not Cole Palmer’s best day of an extraordinary season, underlined by the resounding roar and rapturous applause that greeted him receiving the Premier League’s Young Player of the Season award pitchside ahead of kick-off.

Much more often than usual his passes went a little astray and his most ambitious ideas did not pan out. On other occasions, team-mates simply failed to find his most dangerous runs, most memorably in the second half when Nicolas Jackson was a Bournemouth defensive deflection away from giving the 22-year-old a tap-in with a low cross.

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Yet it is a mark of the exceptional standards Palmer has set for himself that he still came out of this game with his 11th assist in the Premier League this season: a subtle but perfectly weighted and timed return pass to Sterling that enabled his former Manchester City team-mate to dribble into the penalty area and send a low shot squirming under Neto and in.

For months the question has no longer been if Palmer will go to the European Championship with England this summer, but how important a role he should play. Counting against him is the fact that the right flank and No 10 positions also happen to suit Gareth Southgate’s best players: Phil Foden, Bukayo Saka and Jude Bellingham.

Palmer’s body of work, though outstanding, remains considerably smaller than his three main positional rivals for England, but questions over Saka’s fitness (if the muscle problem that curtailed his season for Arsenal persists) could open a more viable route into the starting XI if Southgate is happy to lean into a more attacking alignment.

In terms of quality Palmer has given no one a reason to doubt he could be a breakout star at the Euros — and if England need someone to take a pressure penalty, is there a better choice?

Thiago Silva’s send-off amid end-of-season vibes

The final day of the Premier League season should be about emotional goodbyes and feel-good vibes, and there were plenty of both at Stamford Bridge.

Before kick-off, it was all about Thiago Silva, with huge banners in The Shed End and the Matthew Harding Stand commemorating “O Monstro”, the man who wrote himself into Chelsea folklore when he “came from PSG to win the Champions League”.

Chelsea fans unveil a banner to bid farewell to Thiago Silva (Dan Mullan/Getty Images)

During the game, the Brazilian took more of a back seat, making simple contributions in between hearing his name sung during breaks in play as Chelsea did most of the attacking.

But the final-day vibes were strong throughout, most notably in the 17th minute when Caicedo made his first Chelsea goal a goal-of-the-season contender, lobbing Neto from just over the halfway line.

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Replays of the goal were shown on the stadium screens to fresh cheers during every break in play that followed, and the nature of the goal seemed to encourage Chelsea to let loose. Benoit Badiashile charged forward to join a counter-attack, getting the ball stuck under his feet as he attempted a backheel to Noni Madueke. A minute later, Sterling tried a bicycle kick.

Sterling’s goal early in the second half prompted a rendition of Bob Marley’s ‘Three Little Birds’ in the Matthew Harding Lower. Not even a Badiashile own goal could ruin the mood.

A season that felt like a slog for long stretches is ending on an unmistakeable high for Chelsea, and not just because of a sixth-place finish.

What did Pochettino say?

Speaking after the game, Pochettino revealed he had dinner with Chelsea co-owner Todd Boehly on Friday evening as he waits to find out the results of the club’s review of his performance.

“I don’t know if this (meeting with the owners) is going to happen,” Pochettino said. “I have an idea about this. I can tell you that on Friday night Todd invited me to dinner.

“It was a very nice dinner together but I don’t know about the rumours of the review. Look, my staff tomorrow are going to fly home, (unless) tonight they decide another thing or tell us to stay. I’m going to stay a few more days in London. My door is open and my phone is going to be on.”

Asked if he could elaborate on what was discussed during the dinner or what Boehly may have told him about his future, Pochettino replied: “I’m not going to explain — (I say it) only for you to know that I was with him.

“Look, if I invite you alone and you are me and we have a dinner, it’s not for a bad thing, no? I don’t believe that. If I need to tell something (bad) I call by phone or say let’s go for a coffee.”

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(Top photo: Ryan Pierse/Getty Images)

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