Pedro inspired Chelsea to a club-record 12th successive top-flight victory with a 3-0 home triumph over Bournemouth to continue their Premier League title charge on Monday.
By Carlo Chikomba
Antonio Conte’s league leaders put the pressure back on the chasing pack as they shrugged off the absence of suspended talisman Diego Costa, with replacement Pedro’s stunning first-half goal setting them on their way.
Going into the match, Bournemouth, who won at Stamford Bridge last season, were a match for their outstanding hosts in the first half but failed to take their chances as Jack Wilshere was denied twice from good positions.
And they were made to pay when the hosts struck again in the 49th minute courtesy of Eden Hazard’s penalty. Eddie Howe’s side dug in to limit the damage and were not without chances of their own, but Pedro struck again in stoppage time to add some gloss to the score line.
The win now sees Conte’s men go nine points clear at the top of the table though that lead may be cut if either of Manchester City or Liverpool triumph in their next fixtures.
With Costa and N’Golo Kante banned, Pedro and Cesc Fabregas filled in as Michy Batshuayi was once again left on the bench. Chelsea threatened early as Hazard called Artur Boruc into action after quarter of an hour with a low drive that sailed wide off target.
The Blues kept up the pressure as Pedro cut in from the left before he saw his shot flash across the face of goal. Soon enough, their pressing paid dividends as a well-worked move was neatly finished by Pedro when he curled a superb strike over Boruc from the edge of the box for what was his fourth goal in the last five matches at Stamford Bridge.
The response from the visitors was swift, with Thibaut Courtouis having to make a smart near-post save to deny Wilshere a prompt leveller.
The Arsenal loanee, motivated by the prospect of cutting Chelsea’s lead at the top to enhance his parent club’s chances of catching up with the Blues, also saw a volley deflected wide on the half-hour mark. While at the other end, Fabregas lifted a set-piece just over the crossbar.
The hosts looked more in control in the second half after Francisfouled Hazard in the box and the Belgian put the spot-kick away for his 50th Premier League goal.
It was not all smooth sailing for the West Londoners, though, as Pedro’s yellow card meant he will be suspended for the New Year’s Day visit of Stoke City.
Courtois drew a fine save to stop substitute Benik Afobe from setting up a nervy final moments after the forward went through one-on-one.
However, it was Chelsea who had the last laugh as they found the back of the net once more through Pedro’s deflected effort after a swift counter attack to put the icing on the cake and make it 3-0.
EPL Today Full Time Scores:
Arsenal 1-0 West Brom
Burnley 1-0 Boro
Chelsea 3-0 Bournemouth
Leicester 0-2 Everton
Man Utd 3-1 Sunderland
Swansea 1-4 West Ham