Chelsea restore 10 point Premier League lead as Eden Hazard and Diego Costa see off West Ham

West Ham United 1 Chelsea 2: Manuel Lanzini got a late reply for the Hammers

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It does not matter how well Manchester City and Tottenham are playing, if Chelsea keep on like this there will be no title race. Antonio Conte’s side cruised to another win tonight, a 2-1 dispatching of West Ham United which showcased everything that is going to make them the Premier League champions of 2016-17.

This was not quite a complete performance, it was tainted by conceding a consolation goal to Manuel Lanzini with the last action of the match. That made the score 2-1 but that is no reflection on the balance of play in a game that Chelsea dominated and controlled. Much like most of their away wins this year, Chelsea always had this game exactly where they wanted it.

Before conceding to Lanzini in stoppage time, Chelsea had disdainfully held off West Ham’s powerful but predictable attacking pressure. With Andy Carroll up front, West Ham just slung crosses into the box at him all evening. Against other opponents it might have worked and there was a theory going into this game that if Chelsea had a weakness, it was in the air. But Gary Cahill and David Luiz won every header and at no point did West Ham look like they were going to break through.

Back in October West Ham overpowered Chelsea here in the League Cup, producing one of the few memorable nights this new stadium has seen so far. That was a different Chelsea team, one still finding its feet, and here the difference in class between the two sides meant that this never got off the ground as a contest.

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Hazard completed a sublime counter attack for the opener (Getty)

West Ham often had more possession and territory than Chelsea but since when did that ever bother Antonio Conte? This was a perfect display of counter-attacking efficiency and cutting edge. Chelsea scored their first with a brilliant one-touch break half-way through the first half. They added their second from a set-piece five minutes after half-time and that was the end of the game.

Even though Lanzini scored in added time, that does not detract from the fact that the second half was an exercise in control. Chelsea and Conte both know about seeing out titles even if this is the first time they have done it in each other’s company. There was never any doubt about the destination of the three points.

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Costa tapped in simply for a second (Getty)

Those points move Chelsea 10 points clear of Spurs and 11 points ahead of City, who do have an extra game to play. But City and Spurs could win every remaining match this season and still not bother the engravers. This Chelsea team is a machine and looks very capable of hitting the 92-point target Conte has set for them. That would make them the second-best team in Premier League history, behind Jose Mourinho’s first Chelsea side, and that does not feel like excessive praise.

Chelsea spent the first 20 minutes defending crosses but once it was clear they could do that they were under no real pressure. They did not get into the game but that did not matter. This is a deadly counter-attacking team and it only took one break for them to take the lead. West Ham sent too many men forward for a free-kick and when it came back to Mark Noble he lazily passed straight to N’Golo Kante instead of Robert Snodgrass.

Chelsea exploded up the pitch: Kante  found Hazard, breaking through the middle. He passed to Pedro, who first-timed the ball back into Hazard’s path. His first touch wrong-footed Darren Randolph, then he slotted the ball into the net. London Stadium stewards were then called into action as a home supporter jumped the advertising hoarding to confront Hazard, but he was stopped before he could make his way to the Chelsea players and later arrested.

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Bilic would have been pleased with how West Ham played until the end (Getty)

They nearly scored with their second attack too, another Hazard break. His pass was just behind Diego Costa, and it took Aaron Cresswell to block from Moses and Randolph to save from Pedro before the danger was cleared.

West Ham needed to improve after the break but in reality they gifted Chelsea a second goal, with a sloppiness that characterised the difference between the two teams. West Ham have a habit of making unforced errors that would make a serious team blush and it cost them again here.

First they gave away a corner which Cesc Fabregas clipped into the box. Pedro Obiang touched the ball on at the near post and it flew across goal to Costa, inexplicably unmarked, drifting away from Winston Reid.. He just had to cushion the ball into the goal off his thigh before Reid and Robert Snodgrass, on the line, realised what was happening.

That lead was enough for Conte and he went into lock-down mode, switching to a 5-3-2 system and bringing on Nemanja Matic, Kurt Zouma and Willian. They nearly closed out the win in classic Mourinho-era fashion until, in the 92nd minute, Lanzini skipped into the box and beat Thibaut Courtois with a low shot. His goal desperately flattered West Ham and while it may have spoiled Courtois’ night, it will not spoil Chelsea’s season.

West Ham (4-2-3-1) Randolph; Kouyate, Fonte, Reid (Byram, 64), Cresswell; Noble (Fernandes, 77), Obiang; Feghouli (Ayew, 64), Lanzini, Snodgrass; Carroll

Chelsea (3-4-3) Courtois; Azpilicueta, Luiz, Cahill; Moses (Zouma, 76), Kante, Fabregas, Alonso; Pedro (Matic, 64), Diego Costa, Hazard (Willian, 85)

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