Another game, another victory. Antonio Conte’s side maintained their relentless progress with two goals from Pedro and an Eden Hazard penalty securing a club record 12th successive league win that strengthened Chelsea’s position at the head of the Premier League table. The prospect of breaking the Premier League record of 13 wins against Tottenham Hotspur at White Hart Lane moved one step closer.
Forced to reshuffle his line-up in the absence of the suspended Diego Costa and N’Golo Kante, Conte could be satisfied the loss of two players who have stood out during the recent winning run was dealt with seamlessly. Bournemouth rarely looked capable of repeating their victory here of last December that hastened the departure of Jose Mourinho from Stamford Bridge while any prospect of Chelsea falling short in their bid to once again collect three points effectively disappeared when Pedro put them ahead in the 24th minute.
Conte’s decision not to replace Costa with Michy Batshuayi prompted some raised eyebrows. Batshuayi has yet to make his first Premier League start following his £33m summer move from Marseille and Conte’s comments last week suggested he believes the Belgium international still has some work to do before he can challenge for a starting place. To compound Batshuayi’s frustration, he was finally introduced in added time immediately after Pedro’s second, only for the referee to blow for time before play could resume.
However, the head coach’s decision to ask Eden Hazard to operate in a more central role, flanked by Pedro and Willian was quickly vindicated with the speed and movement of the Chelsea front three quickly proving too much for the Bournemouth defence, particularly with Cesc Fabregas clearly keen to show he is a more than capable deputy for Kante.
Fabregas’ long ball towards Pedro almost undid the visitors’ backline in the fifth minute and while Eddie Howe’s side carved out an early opportunity that was snuffed out by an excellent challenge by Cesar Azpilicueta, Chelsea remained dominant before Pedro’s outstanding strike that came after good work by Hazard and Fabregas.
The pair combined to work the ball through the middle of the Bournemouth defence before Pedro created space on the edge of the box and sent a fine chip over keeper Artur Boruc. The Spain winger later collected his fifth booking of the season and will now miss the home meeting with Stoke but his performance reinforced his value to Conte’s side.
Bournemouth responded well with Jack Wilshere testing Thibaut Courtois before seeing a volley deflected wide but there was little chance of Chelsea allowing the lead to slip.
Then four minutes after the restart, Hazard ensured the game was effectively over, producing another direct run that was halted by Simon Francis’s mistimed challenge inside his own box. The Belgian took the penalty himself, side-footing the ball inside Boruc’s left hand post with the keeper diving to his right.
Courtois was forced into another save to deny Benik Afobe, but Howe’s side were already hoping the final whistle would sound when Pedro’s positive run took him past two challenges before the Spaniard saw his shot deflected past Boruc off Steve Cook.
Chelsea (3-4-3): Courtois; Azpilicueta, Luiz, Cahill; Moses (Aina, 89), Fabregas, Matic, Alonso; Willian (Chalobah 82), Hazard (Batshuayi 93), Pedro. Subs not used: Begovic, Ivanovic, Zouma, Loftus-Cheek,
Bournemouth (3-5-1-1): Boruc; Francis, Cook, Daniels; A.Smith, Gosling, Surman (Stanislas 66), Arter, B.Smith (Ibe 77); Wilshere; King (Afobe 66). Subs not used: Federici, Mings, Fraser, Wilson.
Referee: Mike Jones.
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