Chelsea wallops AFC Bournemouth 3-0

Chelsea moved seven points clear at the top of the table by beating Bournemouth to set a club record of 12 straight Premier League wins.

Cesc Fabregas set up Pedro to break the deadlock with a deflected shot that looped into the top corner.

Eden Hazard capped an impressive display by making it 2-0 from the spot after he was brought down by Simon Francis.

Chelsea added a third goal deep in injury time when Pedro’s shot hit Steve Cook and the ball span over the line.

Bournemouth’s best chance saw substitute Benik Afobe denied by Thibaut Courtois but the Cherries ended up well beaten.

Liverpool can reduce Chelsea’s lead to six points if they beat Stoke on Tuesday.

No Costa or Kante, not much difference

Chelsea were missing two key components of their recent run, with striker Diego Costa and midfielder N’Golo Kante both suspended, but it made little difference.

Without Costa to lead the line, and the Blues £33m Belgium striker Michy Batshuayi again left on the bench, Antonio Conte went with a front three of Hazard, Willian and Pedro.

It took time for them to hit their stride but the three players eventually proved an effective combination.

They were happy to swap positions throughout the game but all three caused the Cherries problems when they ran at them, especially on the break.

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“This is the first time we played without a real forward,” Chelsea manager Conte explained.

“We tried this in training and I think for us at the moment this situation is the best, but I don’t forget Michy because he is a young player with great talent. He is adapting to this league and its football. In the future, I trust in him.”

Kante’s absence, meanwhile, saw Fabregas recalled to partner Nemanja Matic at the heart of Antonio Conte’s midfield.

Again they took time to settle down, giving Jack Wilshere too much room on a couple of occasions before the break, but they were far more assured after half-time.

Bournemouth go back to the drawing board

Bournemouth boss Eddie Howe switched to a 3-4-3 formation to match Chelsea’s shape and, initially, it worked.

Even when Pedro put the hosts ahead, the Cherries looked capable of causing them problems and Wilshere got on the ball in some good positions, going close twice.

It did not last, and Bournemouth were kept at arm’s length for much of the second half – enjoying more possession than Chelsea but unable to do much with the ball, and in constant danger from counter-attacks.

“You can’t be too upbeat about getting beaten 3-0 but there were fine margins and many elements of our game-plan worked,” Howe said afterwards.

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“They scored their first goal out of the blue, without any real sustained period of pressure, and the second goal just after half-time was the decisive moment.”

Howe’s side remain seven points above the relegation zone so have breathing space, but their away form is becoming a cause for concern.

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