Costa Returns to Subdue Tigers
Chelsea extended their lead on top of the Premier League table after they defeated Hull City, 2-0, at Stamford Bridge. Diego Costa opened up the scoring in the 6th minute of first half stoppage time with a close range effort. Gary Cahill would seal the points for the Blues with a towering header late into the match.
With Antonio Conte having deemed Diego Costa over his unsettled state over that massive offer from China, the striker is reinstated into the starting lineup. Thibaut Courtois remains the man in charge of goal with the trio of Cesar Azpilicueta, Gary Cahill and David Luiz providing a three-man central defensive protection in front of the keeper. Nemanja Matic and N’Golo Kante remain the stewards of central midfield with Marcos Alonso and Victor Moses manning the flanks. Willian makes way for the returning Diego Costa with Pedro and Eden Hazard completing the front three for a 4-3-3.
Though Diego Costa may have missed a week due to a “back problem”, it almost seems that he didn’t skip a beat. Within seconds after kickoff, a ball launched up field was headed down by Pedro towards Costa’s path. The Spanish striker immediately takes advantage of the wide open spaces and lines up a shot on goal. But the shot from distance lacked precision was it bobbled towards the left to the Tiger’s relief.
The Blues have had an imperious start to this match but they might need to be mindful because the Tigers have claws. Having gotten a good amount of possession in front of the Chelsea penalty area, the visitors try to get creative. Tom Huddlestone had the ball in the area and quickly executes a one-two with Abel Hernandez to give him a working angle to shoot. Sadly, the beautiful buildup could not be matched with an equally gorgeous finish as the ball goes wide.
Even though there was a 9-minute match stoppage due a collision of heads between Ryan Mason and Gary Cahill. Hull City’s intensity doesn’t feel like it’s dropped a notch. Harry Maguire sauntered up the field to retrieve the clearance, only to find himself sandwiched between Marcos Alonso and the recovered Gary Cahill. But he splits the defense and gets himself deep in the penalty area and executes a shot. However, it only manages to ripple the side netting due to a deflection. Maguire would get another chance at glory as he managed to climb beyond the Blue sea to head towards goal from the resulting corner but his attempt was straight at Thibaut Courtois.
Lady luck almost smiled on the hosts. From a corner taken short, Pedro dribbles towards the edge of the penalty area to find an opening. Instead, he finds Alonso outside the penalty area. He feels he has an angle and attempts a shot. However, Michael Dawson was there for to deflect the shot. It only resulted in the ball looping towards the air and headed towards goal with only the alertness of Eldin Jakupovic preventing Chelsea from scoring.
Pedro and Alonso combine once more for another attempt. Pedro looks to his compatriot to see if they can carve up an opportunity. Alonso surveys the area to find N’Golo Kante in a more advanced position. But before Kante can poke the ball in from close distance, Jakupovic makes an important interception to keep things level between the two clubs.
Chelsea seems most dangerous in the dying minutes of the first half and this trend continued during match. With the official adding a whopping 9 minutes of stoppage time, the Blues were attempting to overrun the Hull City defense. Costa from deep spreads the ball to the right to Victor Moses who makes a forward run on his flank before cutting a low cross into the penalty area. This ball manages to reach Costa and the Spaniard could do no wrong from a few yards out.
Hull City have been defending resolutely but have been showing some attacking teeth when given the chance. With Chelsea still finding their bearing at the start of the second half, the visitors looked to pull out a surprise from deep. Substitute David Meyler has looked to shoot from distance but Courtois was once again proves to be the final obstacle towards goal with a low save.
The Tigers are truly set on preventing this fixture from becoming a cake walk for the hosts. With Hull City threatening with a corner, Cahill managed to get an interception but fails to control the ball, resulting in Abel Hernandez to set up Michael Dawson with a header. Dawson gets some space to the left but could not give his half-volley failing to be on target.
Gary Cahill could have just hammered the final nail of the proverbial coffin. Substitute Cesc Fabregas was given the task to deliver the free kick from the left. He whips one into the 6 yard box where Cahill soared above the Hull City defense to nod home a header from close range and probably put away the Tigers who showed a lot of fight in them even after going behind.
With Chelsea’s other title contenders dropping points over the course of the weekend, the Blues extend their lead at the top of the table at 8 points against second place Arsenal. Chelsea will host Brentford in the 4th round of the FA Cup before invading Anfield in a colossal match against Liverpool.