Chelsea paraded £89million signing Mykhaylo Mudryk at half-time as they edged past Crystal Palace for a vital win.
The Blues, who announced the £89m signing of Ukraine international Mykhayl Mudryk from Shakhtar Donetsk during the first half, had lost seven of their previous nine games in all competitions before the visit of Patrick Vieira’s side.
They were far from convincing against a spirited Eagles outfit, but earned a valuable three points thanks to Havertz’s 64th-minute header.
Despite the win, Chelsea remain 10th in the Premier League and Palace are two places back in 12th.
Palace started with a spring in their step and twice just before midway through the first half, Tyrick Mitchell and Michael Olise were denied by smart saves from Kepa Arrizabalaga.
Chelsea improved on the stroke of half-time and spurned two excellent quick chances, Kai Havertz heading wide from eight yards and Lewis Hall flashing wide after a breakthrough break.
Both goalkeepers made important stops during frantic stoppage time at the end of the first half as Kepa cleared Jeffrey Schlupp’s header and Vicente Guaita at the other end beat Hakim Ziyech’s powerful drive.
Ziyech was Chelsea’s goal provider when his superb cross from the left was headed home by Havertz from six yards.
Havertz inexplicably headed wide of the gaping goal with 10 minutes remaining, but in the end it didn’t matter as Chelsea held on for a valuable win.
Chelsea player ratings (4-3-3)
GK: Kepa Arrizabalaga – 7/10 – A wobble with his first real involvement but soon redeemed himself with some outstanding saves to keep Palace out.
RB: Trevoh Chalobah – 7/10 – The first real example of Potterball as he played as a centre-back, right-back and defensive midfielder. Handled his hybrid role pretty well.
CB: Thiago Silva – 8/10 – Impressive defensively and an absolute force in attack. Caused havoc from corners and free-kicks. Some outstanding defensive blocks.
CB: Benoit Badiashile – 7/10 – A great debut. Looked composed defensively and willing to spray passes around the pitch.
LB: Lewis Hall – 7/10 – Cooked by Olise in the early stages but calmed himself down to make a nice impact at both ends. Yet again, should have scored.
DM: Jorginho – 7/10 – Completed each of his 43 passes in the first half and constantly kept things ticking after the break,
CM: Conor Gallagher – 7/10 – A big, much-needed performance. Played with real energy and regularly pushed Chelsea forward, winning plenty of free-kicks.
CM: Carney Chukwuemeka – 6/10 – Not as involved as he was in his recent cameos off the bench but didn’t really do much wrong.
RW: Hakim Ziyech – 8/10 – Chelsea’s most dangerous player by a long way. A great bit of skill early on to torch Mitchell and a regular source of creativity. A fantastic assist.
ST: Kai Havertz – 7/10 – Put in a real shift. Should have had a few goals but buried his header when it mattered most.
LW: Mason Mount – 5/10 – Still looks off his game. Could see the work rate but offered very little of actual note.
Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang (62′ for Chukwuemeka) – 6/10 – A few nice moves in his limited spell.
Kalidou Koulibaly (77′ for Hall) – 6/10 – Didn’t get much time to make an impact.
Mateo Kovacic (88′ for Ziyech) – N/A
Cesar Azpilicueta (88′ for Havertz) – N/A
Graham Potter – 7/10 – Got his selection right here and his methods were on show with Chalobah’s tactical role. Some pressure off his shoulders.
Crystal Palace player ratings (4-2-3-1)
GK: Vicente Guaita – 7/10 – A busy first half. Some fantastic saves to prevent Chelsea from going ahead but could do nothing about the goal.
RB: Nathaniel Clyne – 5/10 – Didn’t have a whole lot of fun against Hall. Regularly caught out of position.
CB: Joachim Andersen – 6/10 – A solid first half but limped off shortly before the break.
CB: Marc Guehi – 6/10 – Did well to keep Havertz quiet but wasn’t exactly pushed out of his comfort zone. Did all the basics well.
LB: Tyrick Mitchell – 5/10 – Really struggled to keep up with Ziyech and was put in a spin-cycle by the Moroccan as he drove into the box.
DM: Cheick Doucoure – 7/10 – A monster showing in the first half but somewhat spoiled things by declining to compete with Havertz for the opening goal.
DM: Jeffrey Schlupp – 5/10 – Looked a little lazy off the ball, perhaps amplified by Doucoure’s massive shift. Struggled on corners against Silva.
RM: Michael Olise – 6/10 – Really dangerous early on and could have scored a spectacular goal. Quieted down a little once Hall grew into the game but still looked a threat.
AM: Jordan Ayew – 6/10 – Put himself around really well in this role. His energy and pressing was a real problem for Chelsea in the first half.
LM: Ebere Eze – 6/10 – Some nice moments but mixed in with some frustrating ones. Divided opinion among fans before being hooked after the opening goal.
ST: Wilfried Zaha – 5/10 – Didn’t enjoy this central role. Rarely involved given Palace’s willingness to concede possession.
James Tomkins (38′ for Andersen) – 5/10 – Didn’t look comfortable after coming on, but will be happy to know he’s ahead of Chris Richards in the pecking order.
Jean-Philippe Mateta (69′ for Ayew) – 5/10 – Couldn’t get involved much as Palace lost control in the second half.
Odsonne Edouard (69′ for Eze) – 5/10 – Similarly, couldn’t get involved.
Will Hughes (69′ for Schlupp) – 4/10 – Looked more interested in a fight than anything else.
Patrick Vieira – 5/10 – Hard to be too critical with the squad at his disposal. Will have been very happy with the first half showing but, once again, couldn’t maintain that level.