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MOTD: Chelsea on fire in 5-0 Everton victory
For all the clamor up north in Manchester, Chelsea emerged as the hottest team in English football in a rampant 5-0 victory over Everton at Stamford Bridge. The Blues smoked past Everton in an electric Bonfire Night match to go (briefly) top of the Premier League for the first time this season after Manchester City slipped up in Middlesborough yesterday.
Eden Hazard provided a spark in the midfield for Chelsea with two blazing strikes, and goals from Marcos Alonso, Diego Costa, and Pedro made it a statement victory for Antonio Conte’s men.
While the two Manchester clubs have shared just one victory in their last nine league matches since the beginning of October, Chelsea have now won five consecutive Premier League games in the same timespan and are mounting the beginnings of a formidable title challenge.
The Blues have gone over eight hours without conceding a goal in league play, with Conte’s emphasis on hard work and discipline providing a strong backbone from which their creative attacking talents have flourished. Ronald Koeman valiantly attempted to fight fire with fire, imitating Conte’s 3-4-3 system to little avail. Chelsea’s pace and verve overwhelmed Everton’s insufficient back-line, carving right through the Toffees’ defense with stylish ease.
Hazard opened the scoring with a dancing run in the nineteenth minute and Chelsea never looked back. The Belgian midfielder cut in from the left and burst past two defenders with a quick acceleration before drilling a low effort across goal into the bottom corner and Marcos Alonso doubled Chelsea’s lead at the end of a quick break under a minute later.
Everton’s defense fell apart and Diego Costa was completely unmarked to bury Chelsea’s thirty-goal in the forty-first minute, sneaking to tap home a deflected corner at the far post.
Hazard and Pedro exchanged flicks down the right to unlock Everton’s defense for a fourth time on the other side of the half, freeing up space for Hazard to cut into the box and pull a quick low shot into the bottom corner before Maarten Stekelenburg could bat an eye.
Chelsea completed the rout with an equally brilliant fifth goal as Costa ran right around Phil Jagielka in the middle of the park and sprayed the ball wide to Hazard. The twenty-five-year-old’s curling effort was parried by Stekelenburg right into the path of Pedro and it took the simplest of finishes from the Spaniard to give Chelsea an unassailable 5-0 lead, their biggest victory over Everton since 1948.
Conte, however, warned his team to maintain their tunnel-vision or else risk an early burnout.
“We don’t want to send a message to the other teams,” the Italian manager said, per The Guardian. “It is important to send a message to ourselves. I think it is important to be focused on our work, not to see the others’. We want to improve. We are working a lot to improve. This is the right way, it is important the players recognize this way and continue, it is important to celebrate this victory but it is important to say that it is the past. Tonight we can see we are top. Tomorrow it can probably change. But it is not important. Today it was important to win and improve.”
Homepage photo credit: Ronnie Macdonald [CC BY 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons