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Chelsea go ten points clear at the top

ON THE MARK: Diego Costa celebrating with team mates after last night's win

ANOTHER COMFORTABLE victory sent Chelsea ten points clear, once more at the top of the Premier League after a favourable result last night.

On the same day that Mayor of London Sadiq Khan granted planning permission for a redeveloped Stamford Bridge - a fitting time for Chelsea to win their first Premier League encounter at West Ham's new home.

A rapier-like counterattack that ended with Eden Hazard rounding Darren Randolph was supplemented by Diego Costa as Antonio Conte's title chasers won 2-1.

Manuel Lanzini struck West Ham's consolation deep into second half added time when Chelsea had already eased off - much to Conte's chagrin. It was, however, too late to affect the outcome. Slaven Bilic's side had their moments but Thibaut Courtois was never subjected to sustained pressure in the visitors' goal. Chelsea started slowly but gave the impression that they could move through the gears at will.

Their absence from the Champions League has helped Conte to finely calibrate the most balanced side in the division for domestic assignments such as this. Chelsea's participation in Europe's premier club competition next term is the least their jubilant fans expect after the team responded to Tottenham and Manchester City's convincing weekend wins.

BATTLE: Chelsea's Diego Costa, left and West Ham's Winston Reid

The visitors' ability to keep their hosts at arm's length while striking mercilessly when West Ham let their guard down was devastatingly captured in Chelsea's opener.

West Ham found themselves behind within seconds of losing the ball deep in Chelsea territory. On 25 minutes, a slack Mark Noble pass was intercepted by the routinely magnificent N'Golo Kante, who shifted the ball to the marauding Hazard. The Belgian, with the pitch suddenly opening up in front of him, performed a slick give-and-go with Pedro, before slotting the ball home.

The move embodied the pace and precision that has come to characterise this rejuvenated Chelsea, who now have 30 points more than at the corresponding stage last season.

West Ham were better than they had been in recent home defeats to Manchester City and Arsenal, but they never looked like replicating their 2-1 defeat of Chelsea here in the EFL Cup in October. Robert Snodgrass and Soufiane Feghouli were industrious, and Andy Carroll, who bloodied his nose in an accidental clash with Victor Moses, was a persistent aerial nuisance, but a lack of pace limited their efforts to restore parity.

Feghouli raised the volume inside the London Stadium with a low drive just after the hour mark to register West Ham's first shot at on target but his effort was repelled and, by that point, Chelsea were already two up.

On 50 minutes West Ham failed to defend Cesc Fabregas' corner and Costa ghosted in ahead of Winston Reid to brush the ball past Randolph and Snodgrass on the line. That it came off his upper leg demonstrated less a lack of finesse than the most expedient way for the Spain international to claim his 18th goal of the season.

By the time Lanzini reduced the arrears in the 93rd minute, large swathes of the London Stadium were already empty and Chelsea had long since had the three points in the bag.

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