Tuesday 27 December 2016

Chelsea 3 Bournemouth 0: Conte's Team Bring Back The Glory

premier league

This was ruthless, brutal and devastating considering the league leaders were missing their top scorer in Diego Costa and their midfield general in N’Golo Kante.

Bournemouth obviously didn’t heed the Hazard warning because Chelsea’s brilliant Belgian tore them apart in the absence of his two big team-mates.

At this rate Eden Hazard will be a major contender for Footballer of the Year because he is back in the form of his life under Antonio Conte.

He won and scored a penalty, his 50th Premier League goal, after helping to create the opener for Pedro, who later scored again with a deflected shot, and now has nine league goals this season.

It all meant Chelsea set a new club record of 12 consecutive top-flight wins and piled the pressure back on their title rivals once more.

No wonder Hazard played most of the game with a grin on his face.

It was a big call by Conte to start him up front instead of £33m striker Michy Batshuayi, who is supposed to be Costa’s official understudy.

But it paid off in spades, and while Batshuayi, who didn’t get on until injury time, must be wondering about his future, Chelsea’s looks nothing but bright.

The Blues had a very different look about them throughout the game. Gone was the snarl and menace of the suspended Costa.

In its place the guile and elusiveness of Hazard, who was still taking tips on how play the ‘false nine' position from Cesc Fabregas before kick-off.

With Kante also out through suspension many were treating this as Chelsea’s biggest test since they won at Manchester City.

Bournemouth did caused them some early problems, Cesar Azpilicueta coming to the rescue with a last-minute saving tackle to deny Josh King a one-on-one with Thibaut Courtois.

But then Hazard took over. Under pressure from two opponents he turned and raced clear of both before beating a third on his way to winning a corner.

When the ball came in he was quickly back on it, feeding Fabregas on the edge of the box, who picked out Pedro in space with a defence-splitting pass.

His fellow Spaniard still had plenty of work to do but chipped Artur Boruc in style, curling a fine finish into the top corner before racing off to scissor kick the corner flag.

Jack Wilshere forced a fine low save from Courtois with a shot across goal as the Cherries tried to respond.

But Hazard showed just how up for it he was with a cheeky rabona shortly afterwards which Boruc only just tipped away from the top corner, only for the referee to bring play back for a foul.

And the Belgium star put the result beyond doubt shortly after half time when he tempted Simon Francis into a foolish lunge and won a stonewall penalty.

Hazard took it himself and sent Boruc the wrong way before being mobbed by his team-mates. He was making it look easy.

Moments later he almost picked out Pedro for a third before Victor Moses volleyed just wide.

Hazard wanted another penalty for a shot which cannoned into the arm of Dan Gosling but it would have been harsh and was rightly waved away.

Cherries sub Benik Afobe then forced another save from Courtois but he hasn’t been beaten now in over 400 minutes of football and Pedro then rubbed Bournemouth noses in it with a late third.



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