By Williams ‘Bantu’ Irubor
Monday night was rife with English Premier League action as Chelsea cruised over West Ham with a 2-1 victory that saw them secure a 10-point advantage atop the table.
It was the Blues’ 21st victory of the league season and another step towards winning the title in Antonio Conte’s first season as manager.
The Italian was once again spot on with his tactics – nullifying the predictable aerial threat of the Hammers’ 6ft 4in frontman Andy Carroll early in the match.
And then in the 25th minute his attackers cruelly exposed the hosts’ defence with a devastating counter-attack.
N’Golo Kante read a pass from Robert Snodgrass deep inside the Chelsea half on the left and played the ball to Hazard. The Belgium winger drove forward, played a one-two with Pedro and then shifted the ball past keeper Darren Randolph before slotting home.
The Blues doubled their lead after the break when Hazard’s corner from the left was turned in with his thigh by Costa – the Spain striker’s 17th league goal of the season.
The Hammers came close after Costa’s strike when Sofiane Feghouli’s low drive was brilliantly saved by Thibaut Courtois. Chelsea wing-back Marcos Alonso then appeared to block Manuel Lanzini’s half-volley with his arm moments later – but referee Andre Marriner deemed it to be accidental.
West Ham finally pierced the last line of defence in stoppage time. Carroll robbed Cesc Fabregas and fed Andre Ayew, who squared for Lanzini to fire in.
No doubt there were West Ham supporters who would have fancied their team’s chances of causing an upset on Monday.
They came into the match having lost only one of their past six league games, picking up three wins. And one of the Blues’ four defeats came at London Stadium in the EFL Cup earlier this season.
Eden Hazard was undoubtedly the Man Of The Match after putting up another stellar performance in what many would regard as his best ever season for Chelsea.