Cole Palmer carrying Chelsea like Eden Hazard as he fires four-goal warning to Man City ahead of FA Cup clash

Hat-trick hero: Cole Palmer continues to carry this Chelsea side (REUTERS)
Hat-trick hero: Cole Palmer continues to carry this Chelsea side (REUTERS)

Cole Palmer four-goal haul, including a 29-minute perfect hat-trick, was a warning shot to Manchester City ahead of the FA Cup semi-final.

The 21-year-old forward is among the most lethal finishers in Europe, highlighted by his place alongside Erling Haaland on 20 league goals at the top of the Premier League Golden Boot standings.

His first came after just 13 minutes when he nutmegged Everton’s star defender Jarrad Branthwaite, played a one-two with Nicolas Jackson and curled in a pinpoint left-foot finish.

Just five minutes later, Palmer ghosted into the box to head in a rebound after Jordan Pickford parried Jackson’s shot.

Pickford then woefully passed the ball out to Palmer in midfield, but he still needed a good touch and a first-time shot on his weaker right foot to lob the England goalkeeper from 35 yards.

That sensational spell made life easy for Chelsea, who had given away chances to Everton and could have easily found themselves a goal down first, which would have undoubtedly tested this inconsistent team.

As it was, Jackson’s touch, turn and near-post finish made it 4-0 just before half-time.

But it was Palmer’s night, who added his fourth from the penalty spot to move alongside Haaland in the scoring charts, with nine assists to his name too. He also became the first Chelsea player to score in seven consecutive home league games.

Not since Eden Hazard have Chelsea been carried by just one individual, even if the Belgian winger was fighting for loftier goals and in a better team. It is reasonable to wonder where this current side, still ninth in the Premier League, would be without his goals.

But his seniority and exceptionalism from the penalty spot must be recognised by his team-mates.

Noni Madueke won the penalty but insisted on taking it himself, and Jackson also argued vehemently over who should take it. Everyone knew Palmer should take it, as he has now scored all nine of his nine penalties, but it needed stand-in captain Conor Gallagher to wrestle the ball off the duo and give it to the club’s talisman.

Mauricio Pochettino must resolve the penalty situation, having not taken control and allowing players some freedom to decide on the pitch.

Homegrown substitute Alfie Gilchrist added a sixth and his first goal for his boyhood on a near-perfect night in preparation for Saturday's FA Cup semi-final at Wembley Stadium.

It will be against Manchester City, who may have sellers regret with Palmer, having only sold him for £42.5million.