Antonio Conte’s Chelsea marched on this afternoon with a routine victory at home against Bournemouth, maintaining the Blues advantage at the top of the Premier League table and securing a piece of club history for the West London side.
With Bournemouth presenting a potential banana skin, with the Cherries already defeating Chelsea’s title rivals Liverpool recently, the Blues did well to ensure their side did not fall to the same failures and instead secured all three points for the match.
The result ensures Chelsea will sit top of the pile for the New Year and 2017 is shaping up to be a very good year indeed for the Blues, who look well on-course to seal their second Premier League title in the space of three years.
Here, we’ve identified five things we learned from Chelsea’s dominant performance.
Eyebrows were certainly raised when the teamsheet was announced prior to kick-off as, with Diego Costa unavailable due to suspension, Antonio Conte elected against starting Michy Batshuayi in his place and instead opted with a tactic without a recorfnised centre-forward.
Selecting a fluid front three of Pedro, Eden Hazard and Willian, Chelsea were excellent and all three of their forward players put in a tremendous shift.
After struggling in his first season in the Premier League, Pedro Rodriguez is one of many players who has rekindled better form under the guidance of Antonio Conte and he’s showing the sort of performances we haven’t seen from him before in England.
Now looking like the player that impressed for Barcelona and Spain for all those years, Pedro has increased Chelsea’s attacking ranks and will be a crucial player between now and the end of the campaign.
One negative from the performance was the midfield’s struggles without N’Golo Kante who, like Costa, was suspended for the match. In his absence, Bournemouth’s Jack Wilsher dominated the midfield and, had Chelsea been playing against opposition of a higher calibre, they could have come undone.
Kante will return imminently but further down the line his absence may be extended, so Chelsea need to ensure they have a back-up plan in place for if the Frenchman is unavailable.
Wilshere was dominant in his midfield performance today and Eddie Howe has demonstrated that the England international’s best position is in an attacking midfield role, rather than the defensive position he has adopted for England in the past.
With Wilshere avoiding injury and looking back to his best under the guidance of Howe, he’ll be a crucial player for the Cherries moving forward and may help Howe in any aspirations he has to land the Arsenal job.
Tearing the Premier League apart in Chelsea’s title success two-seasons ago but then being one of the worst performers in the Blues collapse last season, Eden Hazard has got back to his best this season and is showing the sort of performances that suggest he’s one of the best in the world.
Scoring via a spot-kick today, Hazard was dominant throughout and made the absence of key-striker Diego Costa almost impossible to spot.