Yet another sensational display from Eden Hazard saw the pressure lift on Antonio Conte as the Blues triumphed over a West Brom side who had their chances. Hazard’s double and Victor Moses’s neat finish sealed a 3-0 win over the Baggies and lifted Chelsea back into the top 4 after two horrendous results.
It was West Brom who had the better of the opening stages of the match and had chances to go in front in front of a nervy Stamford Bridge crowd. Alan Pardew’s game plan will have taken a slight hit when Daniel Sturridge picked up a hamstring injury before the 2-minute mark and was replaced by Jay Rodriguez. The substitute almost put the Baggies a goal up with his first touch but he could only drag his close-range effort wide of Thibaut Courtois’ near post.
Victor Moses presented Rodriguez with a glorious chance a few minutes later when his header back to Courtois was short and fell to Rodriguez on the edge of the penalty area. But, perhaps surprisingly, he took his shot almost straight away and dragged it wide of the far post but the nerves in the stand were growing. Olivier Giroud had Chelsea’s best chance early on but he couldn’t guide his effort past Ben Foster from close range. Giroud combined well with Eden Hazard for the majority of the evening and that partnership produced the first goal of the night when Giroud laid the ball off the Hazard who swept home from the edge of the area.
The first half ended with a sustained spell of Chelsea dominance but the Blues couldn’t find a second before the break. Olivier Giroud, however, found himself in the wars having been trod on by Ahmed Hegazi before Jonny Evans took a swipe at his left leg. He left the pitch at half time with a bandage around his barnet and a very sore calf. It was West Brom’s striker who almost pulled the away side level after half time after wrestling Andreas Christensen off the ball. The Venezuelan would’ve equalised had Courtois not got his legs in the right place to divert his low shot wide. Jonny Evans almost scored from the resulting corner but he could only divert his header over the bar.
An exhausted and battered Olivier Giroud was replaced by Alvaro Morata, making his first appearance since mid-January after a back injury. Cesc Fabregas was trying to find Morata with a flick when his deflected pass fell into the path of Victor Moses who slotted the ball past Ben Foster to double the hosts’ lead with around half an hour to play. West Brom were dead and buried when Eden Hazard cut inside from the right and bent a shot into the near corner of the goal with his weaker foot to increase Chelsea’s advantage to three. The visitors had very little in the way of chances after that third goal and it was easy to see why they’re five points adrift at the bottom of the league.
Alvaro Morata seemed to be full of confidence and came very close to making it onto the scoresheet when he sent a rasping shot across goal from range but Ben Foster did well to get fingertips to it and keep it out. The now buoyant Stamford Bridge crowd were yearning for either Morata to find the net or Hazard to complete his hat-trick but neither came to fruition and the Blues strolled to the final whistle with three points in the bag.
Those three points take them above Tottenham and back into the top 4 in the Premier League table while the Baggies are rooted to the foot and look destined for relegation. The return of Alvaro Morata will boost Antonio Conte’s hopes of getting some more positive results in the coming weeks and that starts with Hull on Friday in the FA Cup Fifth Round.