Manuel Lanzini’s stoppage time goal wasn’t enough to help West Ham mount a comeback as Chelsea managed to hold off the Hammers to leave the London Stadium with all 3 points.
A goal in each half from Eden Hazard and Diego Costa sealed the deal for the Blues at the London Stadium. Diego Costa’s missed chances restricted Chelsea from winning with the convincing scoreline that Conte would have liked, but with 3 points in the bag, the Blues can now focus on Manchester United.
We take a look at some of the major talking points and things we learnt from Chelsea’s first victory at the London Stadium against West Ham.
Hazard vs Kante
Besides Chelsea’s Player Of The Year award, the duo are the surely the strongest contenders for the PFA Player of the Year award as well. Both Hazard and Kante were superb for Chelsea against West Ham, with the former getting his 11th Premier League goal of the season.
Hazard finished off a brilliant counter attacking move, started by Kante from Chelsea’s half for the Blues’ first goal of the season. Since moving from Lille in the summer of 2012, the 26-year-old has scored 52 goals in 164 Premier League appearances and is well on course to have the best season of his career.
Kante has once again been one of the Premier League best players this season, and his performances this season have further enhanced how important he was to Leicester City’s fairy-tale title win last year. The Foxes are currently languishing at 15th place after a disastrous season.
The 25-year-old was brought to Stamford Bridge for a measly £32 million in the summer, a figure that continues to look like more of a bargain with each passing game. Whether Chelsea win the title or not, picking their best player out of these two world class talents is certainly going to be a difficult choice.
Captain, Leader, Legend, Leaving?
The 36-year-old was once again present on the Chelsea bench, watching his side maintain their lead at the top of the table with a yet another victory. This is unfamiliar territory for Terry, who until this season was ever present in the middle of the Chelsea defence.
Terry has made only 5 Premier League appearances this season and 11 in all competitions. Injuries haven’t helped his cause and they kept him out of the Chelsea squad for most of the season.
With Gary Cahill, David Luiz and Cesar Azpilicueta shining in defence and Kurt Zouma, Nathan Ake and Andreas Christensen being touted as the future back three of the club, it seems as if this might very well be John Terry’s final two months as a Chelsea player.
Costa Is Back
And not a minute too soon. Costa now has 3 goals in his past 3 consecutive games in all competitions. Prior to this mini-run of form, Costa only had 1 goal to his name in 6 games in all competitions in 2017. The fans and Conte will hope this continues against Manchester United next week.
With 17 goals this term, the Spanish International is the joint-third highest goalscorer in the English top flight along with Alexis Sanchez, behind only Tottenham Hotspur’s Harry Kane and Everton’s Romelu Lukaku.
This return to form has come just in time for Chelsea, who have 11 games remaining this season in the Premier League and will certainly hope to have more games in the FA Cup after next week, and Costa will have to be at his very best, if the Blues are to maintain their title charge in both competitions.
Cesc Starting Again
This was the Spaniard’s second consecutive Premier League start for only the second time over the course of this campaign. This is a pretty big deal for the former Arsenal man, given that Nemanja Matic was fit and he justified his selection with his 9th assist of the season.
His error which led to West Ham’s goal took the sheen off a rather good defensive performance. 2 interceptions, 3 tackles shows good progress in his game. He also got his 6th yellow card in 18 appearances, something that he will have to reflect on, considering that he started only 7 of those games.
With Chelsea set to face Manchester United next week in the 6th Round of the FA Cup, it remains to be seen whether Fabregas has won enough of Antonio Conte’s confidence to start in a game of such magnitude.
Chelsea’s To Lose
The Blues have a 10 point lead at the top of the table with 11 games to go. Tottenham Hotspur are closest to them with 56 points while Manchester City are at third with 55 points, with a game in hand. Should the Citizens win, that lead will be shortened to 8 points.
With tricky fixtures against Manchester United, Manchester City, Everton and Southampton yet to come in April, the Blues cannot lose focus now or let complacency set in. Barring some shock results or some mass injury lay-offs in these coming weeks, then this title is certainly heading back to London.