Chelsea put West Brom aside with consummate ease in a dominant 2-0 victory to assert their authority at the top of the Premier League table.
The Blues, who recorded 74% possession and over four times as many shots as the visitors, dictated play throughout the match and went up by two goals inside 25 minutes from Diego Costa and Eden Hazard’s goals. When West Brom’s Yacob was sent off, there was potential for a drubbing but conservative Chelsea opted to save legs with a busy December month coming.
A return from an international break always brings an added bounce and the Chelsea fans were evidently delighted to welcome back club football, for they were setting Stamford Bridge alight. Mourinho’s mind games tend to be played with opposing managers, but it looks like his fans have obliged too in his calls for added atmosphere. It was no surprise, then, when Chelsea raced into a two-goal lead.
Diego Costa, fully recovered from previous niggles, broke the deadlock by controlling the ball with his chest and then firing past Foster. It was the Spaniard’s 11th Premier League goal but he had much to thank Oscar for the assist.
One became two just 14 minutes later. Where Costa has been prolific in scoring, Fabregas has been as prolific assisting. The ex-Gunner set up Eden Hazard to double Chelsea’s advantage.
Four minutes later was the start of the game petering out. Yacob was silly in his two-footed lunge on Costa, who was most certainly not impressed and neither was Lee Mason, who brandished the straight red card.
The onus was then on Chelsea to well and truly hit West Brom for the sixes and sevens, but Irvine’s augmented strategy of having nine behind the ball and only one up top, made life difficult. The men in blue, clearly intent on winning the championships on points rather than goal difference, were more than happy to settle with the status quo.
Man of the Match
EDEN HAZARD: The Belgian has always received praise for his excellent skill and ability to get past players, but his inability to score many goals has led to the holding back of full praise. So when he does score, like today, and he continues to provide and be creative and terrorise defenders, what more is there to ask of a 23-year-old? 8/10
Mourinho was delighted: “It was comfortable but I thought in the first half we played amazingly well. In the first half we have to be 3-0, 4-0, 5-0 up. But the quality of our football was there. I don’t remember seeing many times football of that dimension. We are playing well.”
Alan Irvine: “Obviously this is a really difficult place to come. They’re a top team. We were looking to get off to a good start and obviously the first goal after 11 minutes made it hard. We certainly had to have a shape about us and have discipline, but to lose those first couple of goals was obviously against what we were trying to do.”