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Another Four-Two Victory!
For the second time in four days, the league leaders have scored four goals whilst also conceding twice. On each occasion the incomparable Eden Hazard found the back of the net, while the double helping was this time bagged by lethal Diego Costa who has scored three times against the Saints in this campaign. Chelsea wouldn't be Chelsea if they didn't make the occasional hash at defending, and another Spaniard Oriol Romeu tapped in from close range to nullify Hazard's early strike. It took a trademark header from big Gary Cahill on the stroke of half time to restore the one-goal advantage, something which was scarcely deserving after an unimpressive first 45 minutes.
Big Matic Seals Semi Triumph
Nemanja Matic: he scores when he wants to! Fortunately, he selected a very good occasion to blast in his first accurate effort of the season. Following on a mere five minutes after Hazard's left foot had drilled us into the lead for a third time, the big Serb took a lay-off from the Belgian wizard and coolly despatched a drive into the top corner that left Lloris, his troops, and supporters alike all feeling rather stunned. If Chelsea had a better striker, the score could have been more substantial, as both Batshuayi and his replacement Senor Costa were wasteful with free headers. Otherwise, apart from the customary display of erratic defending, it was all good against the norf London wannabes.
After two failed attempts to even score, let alone win, Jose Mourinho's Manchester United belatedly got their act together against the Premier League leaders. This time, the consensus of opinion is that the special needs one outwitted his Italian opposite number by playing two pacey attackers in Lingard and Rashford up front. Maybe it is time for Conte to now think outside of the box too, as his team are staggering at a time when rivals Tottenham Hotspur are flying. It's hard not to be envious of Tottenham at present: they trust their young talent, they play English players, and they are free-scoring - everything that Chelsea are not. More alarmingly, they have reduced the gap at the top of the charts from ten points to four points in the space of a mere fifteen days.
A Patchy Performance
A brilliant second half free kick from Marcus Alonso helped to slam the door on Bournemouth's hopes of defying Chelsea in this visit to the south coast. Up to that point, the Premiership leaders had reverted to their safety first (not to mention nervous) strategy of merely trying to walk the ball into the net and jealously guarding their possession. The Cherries rarely threatened in the second half, but they had been a handful in the first 45 minutes.
City Conquered, Crisis Over
The Premiership leaders produced a performance that wasn't pretty, but was pretty effective and atoned for their surprising defeat to Crystal Palace. Peculiarly, the loss to Palace is a match that we could easily have won and the win over Manchester Mercenaries was a match that we could have lost. It is actually better to win one and lose one than to draw two, which could easily have happened as well. To be fair to the Premiership favourites, they were more than solid in the second half, after Conte had shrewdly applied a tactical switch. As a consequence, the visitors huffed and puffed but rarely looked like blowing the house down.
Palace: Party Poopers
Lightning does obviously strike twice. Last season the Eagles travelled a few miles west whereupon they raided Stamford Bridge and left with a 2-1 win. Having said that, the circumstances of this smash and grab were significantly more different. Whereas Crystal Palace more than held their own on their previous visit, they found themselves this time weathering a storm of incessant attacking from a Chelsea team chastened by losing their early lead. Whilst the visitors deserve much credit for their ability to defend by hook and by crook, the hosts only have themselves to blame.
Cahill Silences Stoke
By some strange coincidence, Willian and Cahill have scored in each Premiership fixture against Stoke City. The team from the Potteries act as a good barometer of Chelsea's stellar progress this season, because last year we lost twice and drew at home to them, so to win home and away against this potential banana skin is a marked improvement. Another peculiar piece of trivia is that all three goals in this hotly contested encounter were a result of set pieces.
Another Big Contribution From Kante
The runaway Premiership leaders cruised into the last four of the FA Cup for an April date with Tottenham Wannabes, courtesy of a fine strike from the outstanding N'Golo Kante who completely eclipsed the overrated and underperforming Paul Pogba.
A late strike in added-on time by Lanzini couldn't camouflage the gulf in class in this London derby between east and west. Chelsea, the apparent 'champions elect' went into cruise control early in the second half, after the master poacher Senor Costa had ghosted in between defenders to score from point blank range following a corner kick. This increased the tally to 39 goals this season from Chelsea's Spanish Armada quintet.
Armada's Goals Sink Swansea
Cesc Fabregas marked his three hundredth Premiership appearance with a rare start and more importantly the opening goal of this entertaining fixture. However the hosts were left bewildered at the interval when a Llorente header restored parity, after forty minutes of constant Chelsea pressure. The champions-elect then had to step up their efforts in the second half to avoid slipping to another draw. Eventually Fabianski obliged with a poor attempt at preventing a goal-bound shot from red hot Pedro. Then Costa sealed the deal after great work from the impressive Hazard. The Blues actually played very well, but Swansea refused to capitulate. Fortunately there would be no repeat of the bizarre 2-2 result from September, and Chelsea have taken another three-point stride towards Premier League glory.