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Cole Palmer’s Late Penalty Caps Thrilling 4-4 Draw Between Chelsea, Manchester City. Who Is the Exciting Attacker?

The 21-year-old phenom has been quietly waiting to shine on the English Premier League’s biggest stage, and he did not disappoint.

By Andrew Woodin
Cole Palmer in action with Jeremy Doku

Spectacular. That’s the only word that comes to mind after watching Chelsea nearly slay Premier League titans Manchester City in an epic, all-out duel to the bitter end.

Between Pep Guardiola and Mauricio Pochettino digging deep into their footy acumen for any tactical advantage they could exploit, to Erling Haaland netting a pair of goals in his clash with Thiago Silva, to even Raheem Sterling proving that he's still as much of a threat as he always was, Sunday’s match between the Citizens and the Blues at Stamford Bridge was a battle that reminded zealous fans around the globe why the English Premier League is still the best in the world.

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Influenced by cohesive playmaking strategy and intrinsically brilliant individual performances, the pendulum swung to-and-fro throughout the rain-drenched affair. The eight-goal thriller was an instant classic and, while notable figures like Thor’s progeny Haaland, Sterling, Silva, Rodri, Reece James, Phil Foden, Julián Álvarez, Conor Gallagher and Marc Cucurella all chipped in memorable moments — at 39, Silva’s early equalizer makes him the oldest player to score in the Premier League in a decade — it was perhaps the stellar play from unlikely hero Cole Palmer that fans may remember the most.

Who is Cole Palmer?

Born May 6, 2002, in Manchester, England, Palmer is an attacking midfielder for Chelsea whose speed makes him a nightmare to defend on the flanks and, at six feet, two inches tall, his wiry, lean frame allows him to slip behind stout back lines on set pieces who may be marking more traditionally threatening aerial hunters.

After being jettisoned by Manchester City over the summer — one Guardiola and company surely must regret after Sunday — Palmer signed a seven-year deal with the Blues in September before making his Chelsea debut against Nottingham Forest as a substitute just one day after the ink dried. His first start came in the youngster’s fourth outing with Pochettino’s side during Chelsea’s victory over Brighton & Hove Albion in the Carabao Cup.

Cole Palmer points his finger during a Premier League match

His four goals and two assists for Chelsea in such a short amount of time this season tells a story of a tenacious footballer, so if you tuned into Sunday’s slugfest at Stamford Bridge, you’d understand why his style of play resonates in Pochettino’s scheme. For starters, despite barely pushing 160 pounds, he’s equally fearless dribbling into a loaded box as he is in space. In the 60th minute, he took a routine pass in Man City’s territory and skewered four Citizens as he carved his way through the box, nearly notching a goal had he had just another half-step.

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Still, it was his prowess as a penalty taker that made the difference in Chelsea’s clash against Manchester City. In the 92nd minute during stoppage time, Sterling roped a pass to Chelsea’s striker Armando Broja in the box, where he earned a penalty after Rúben Dias committed a late sliding tackle. With the rain streaking down as emotional players on both sides turned combative, it was the young gun Palmer who stepped away from the melee with the ball under his arm to center himself before arguably the biggest moment of his career as he buried a near-perfect, beauty of goal to bring the barnburner of a match to a 4-4 close.

After Palmer’s momentous equalizer in the 95th minute to lift the Blues to a 4-4 draw, there were two prevailing thoughts: wow, this kid is great, and, why in the world did Man City let him go?

Why did Cole Palmer leave Manchester City for Chelsea?

Palmer felt that the big-stage moments like the one we saw him unflinchingly stare down on Sunday would never happen at Manchester City, despite Guardiola promising him more game time, according to ESPN. That uneasy feeling of being ready to soar when others don’t fully recognize how high you can truly fly resulted in the 21-year-old shipping out to west London over the summer for just over $52 million.

Guardiola discussed how Palmer’s departure from Manchester City came about.

"Cole arrived and accepted some processes and then after one or two years said, ‘No, I don’t want to play here, I am not going to play,’” said Guardiola, according to GOAL. “But I said ‘Riyad [Mahrez] is leaving, you are going to get a chance here,’ and he said ‘No, I am not going to play here, I want to leave,’ so I said ‘OK, leave.’”

“He got what he wanted,” continued Man City’s manager Guardiola who, in his 882nd game as manager, saw his side for the first time both score and concede four goals in match, thanks in large part to his castaway Palmer. “It is good for him. He is a young player, a huge talent, otherwise he would not have been here. He is a nice lad and is doing really good."

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Palmer’s confidence is already buoying him in England’s top flight, solidifying his role on Pochettino’s side.

"[It's the] very straight first time I played against City,” Palmer said to Sky Sports. “I have great respect for the club I spent 15 years at. Great to see some friends, we were unlucky to get the win. I have many City fans at home, but it's the game."

On his superb penalty strike, Palmer added: "It was a long time waiting, but I felt confident. I've had a few now, I kept focused in the 90-something minute. I won't say I work on penalties, I don't. I just trusted in my ability.”

Palmer’s not the only one at Stamford Bridge who believes in his ability.

"He showing from the day he arrived here, he doesn't feel the pressure," Pochettino said, according to ESPN. "The character and talent he is showing is very good for the team. I am so happy for him."

With the culmination of Sunday’s slugfest, Chelsea moves into the 10th spot on the Premier League table while Manchester City regains the top spot with 28 points, just one point above Liverpool and Arsenal.

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