Premier League leaders Chelsea proved too stern a challenge for West Ham Monday evening, as the visitors secured a 2-1 win at the London Stadium to widen the gap to ten points on second place Tottenham.
Goals from superstars Eden Hazard and Diego Costa were enough for Antonio Conte’s team to secure a league double against the Hammers, as they began their excellent season with a similar 2-1 result over Slaven Bilic’s men at Stamford Bridge back in August. Manuel Lanzini gave the hosts late hope with a fine finish deep into second half stoppage time, but it was too late to prevent another Chelsea three points.
The first 20 minutes were far from routine for the Blues, as West Ham started the match brightly as the better team on the pitch. Good defending by makeshift rightback Cheikhou Kouyate was containing the dangerous Hazard early on, while Aaron Cresswell and Manuel Lanzini were providing promise for a possible good evening for the hosts. But the elite sides need just one moment in a game to control things, and that indeed was the case in the middle of the first half.
Chelsea would turn a West Ham set piece into the match’s defining moment, when Robert Snodgrass poor pass was intercepted by N’Golo Kante to begin a counter attack that would result in pure devastation. The always energetic Kante would find Hazard, who would combine with Pedro and round off a fine team move with a finish around Darren Randolph to give the champions-elect the 1-0 lead in the 25th minute.
Any hopes for the Hammers to even the match at one-apiece was dashed in the 50th minute, when Winston Reid switched off at the wrong moment to allow Diego Costa to freely tap in Chelsea’s second goal off a corner.
West Ham will now begin a three match schedule against teams mired near or in the relegation zone fight when they face off against Bournemouth on Saturday. Fixtures against reinvigorated Premier League champions Leicester City and Hull City follow the Hammers trip to the Vitality Stadium.