Chelsea battled past a resilient Hull city side at Stamford Bridge on Sunday evening, as two goals late on in each half ensured the Blues went eight points clear at the top of the Premier League table. Diego Costa fired in the first goal, deep into stoppage time at the end of the first-half, whilst a close range Gary Cahill header wrapped up the points with just 10 minutes to go. Here are five things we learnt from the game:
Diego Costa is back and back with a bang! The much publicised forward almost scored within just 20 seconds of his return to the starting lineup, and his instinctive finish from Moses’ cut back was reminiscent of the quick thinking and potency that has personified Costa’s sensational spate of form this season. His celebration also seemed to insinuate that all the rumours of a move to China were nothing more than talk.
Cesc Fabregas needs to start more often Until Fabregas’ introduction late in the second-half Chelsea were lacking a creative spark to break through Hull’s well drilled back line, and his superb assist is a clear indication of this shift in attacking momentum. The Spaniard now has six assists this season, the joint-most of any Chelsea player, despite only starting five times in the Premier League this season. His contribution against Sunderland (winning goal), Manchester City (assist for Costa’s equaliser), Stoke City (two assists in a 4-2 win) and Leicester City (two goals in extra time in the EFL Cup) all show how pivotal Fabregas is to Conte’s team, and as a result he should be rewarded for this with a more regular spot in the side.
Gary Cahill is finally moulding into a true leader and captain at the back Cahill has come under fire from many sections of Chelsea’s support this season for his poor close control and distribution, but as the season has progressed the Englishman has slowly established himself as a competent and authoritarian centre-half under the stewardship of newly reformed David Luiz – who’s clumsy and rash nature had previously led to criticism as well. Whilst in his defensive work Cahill has helped keep a league-high 13 clean sheets, the 31-year-old has also proven a threat in the opposition box, scoring vital goals against Manchester United, Stoke City and Hull.
The game against Liverpool is not as pivotal as first thought With a Fernando Llorente double condemning Liverpool to a surprise 3-2 home loss at the weekend, Chelsea’s win against Hull has now pushed the Blues eight points clear at the top, and has now seen the hotly anticipated Premier League encounter at Anfield in just over a fortnight take on less significance than first hoped. Although a positive result will obviously be the most favourable outcome, a loss will only see Chelsea’s lead cut back to five points at the most.
Hull look far more solid under Marco Silva Despite losing at Stamford Bridge, Chelsea’s win was far from routine, as they benefited from a couple of questionable refereeing decisions – a possible foul on Abel Hernandez in the build-up to the first goal, and a clumsy trip on the Hull forward by Marcos Alonso whilst the score was 1-0. The imperious performance of centre-back Harry Maguire also showed a new and improved defensive steal to Hull’s play, hence Chelsea’s difficulty to break the Tigers down. Silva has already delivered two wins in four games, despite playing both Manchester United and Chelsea.