Noni Madueke believes Chelsea have finally found answers to the goalscoring problems that plagued them last season.
The England Under-21 international came off the bench to fire Mauricio Pochettino’s side to a 2-1 win at home to Crystal Palace on Wednesday, slotting the winner from the penalty spot in the 89th minute after being fouled by Eberechi Eze.
Earlier Michael Olise, who nearly became a Chelsea player in the summer, had equalised on the stroke of half-time after the hosts had failed to build on Mykhailo Mudryk’s 13th-minute opener.
There were chances for Mudryk, Nicolas Jackson and Ian Maatsen on his first start to add to the hosts’ tally but a combination of wayward finishing and Palace goalkeeper Dean Henderson kept Roy Hodgson’s side in it, until Madueke’s late intervention.
Chelsea netted only 38 Premier League goals last campaign, their lowest in the league in almost a century, but already have 31 at the halfway stage this time around.
They have been boosted by the return to fitness of last season’s Bundesliga top-scorer Christopher Nkunku who made a full debut against Palace and was a threat at number 10.
And Madueke feels confident that a corner has been turned.
— Chelsea FC (@ChelseaFC) December 28, 2023
“We play good football and are scoring goals now,” said the 21-year-old. “I remember last season we weren’t scoring those goals.
“We’re probably conceding a few too many, but I just feel it’s that consistency we need to get down. Once we do, we’ll be a really good team.
“We’ve had some very good performances this season where we haven’t got the rub of the green. It’s a process and where we are now will not define us come the end of the season.”
It was Chelsea’s third league win in a row at home and their fourth in all competitions, though that run has been cut with a streak of four consecutive away losses.
It is their longest sequence of victories at Stamford Bridge since October 2022 and saw them climb back into the top half of the table.
“(This) was a must-win game,” said Madueke. “There have been similar games in the season that we should have won and haven’t quite got the rub of the green, so I’m happy we’ve done the business and got the three points.”
— Chelsea FC (@ChelseaFC) December 27, 2023
Madueke also reflected on his impact from the bench having been handed just his eighth league appearance or the season, of which only one has been from the start.
He added: “It’s been a stop-start campaign for me. I’ve had little niggles, little injuries, things that haven’t quite gone my way.
“I’m happy to have an impact off the bench (against Palace) and whether I start the next game or have the same impact off the bench is up to the manager.”