Eden Hazard’s second-half strike was enough to separate the sides as Chelsea registered an important victory over struggling Bournemouth.
The Belgium international fired past former team-mate Asmir Begovic in the 51st-minute to keep the Blues in the top four. The Cherries had set out their stall to be hard to beat, but Chelsea always seemed capable of scoring and deservedly broke the deadlock early in the second half.
Bournemouth were unable to find an equaliser and succumbed to their seventh defeat in 10 matches, which kept them in the bottom three.
Here are three talking points…
Eden Hazard continues his scoring streak against Bournemouth
After missing the early stages of the season through injury, the Belgian is back to his scintillating best. Hazard was dominant against Bournemouth and his movement and technical ability provided the home side with plenty of problems. He enjoys playing against the Cherries and his decisive contribution was his fifth goal in as many appearances against Eddie Howe’s men.
No keeper likes being beaten at his near post and in retrospect, Begovic will think he could have done better. He appeared to be wrong-footed by the direction of Hazard’s shot. If Chelsea have still have designs on retaining their title and competing deep into the latter stages of the Champions League, then keeping Hazard fit and firing will be crucial.
Cherries’ defensive formation leaves them toothless in attack
Last season, Bournemouth were accused of being too naive against the top teams and regularly found themselves out of matches after 30 minutes. Howe has clearly been mindful of that. As against Arsenal, Tottenham Hotspur and Manchester City, the Cherries boss set up with five at the back in an attempt to blunt their opponents.
While his side have conceded fewer goals compared with last season, they have still lost all four. And their defensive set-up has left them impotent in attack. Against Chelsea, Bournemouth never looked like scoring. In fact, it took until stoppage-time for them to register a shot on target. Howe needs to find the right balance between defence and attack, because six goals in 10 outings is a poor return.
Antonio Conte answers his critics in typical style
It seemed baffling to many that Antonio Conte had to answer questions about his job in his pre-match Press conference, amid speculation that Carlo Ancelotti could return to his former club following his sacking at Bayern Munich. But such is the nature of the Premier League that, despite being the reigning champions, the Italian is not assured of his position.
Yes, Chelsea have suffered a couple of disappointing results this season, but with 19 points from 10 matches and qualification for the knockout stages of the Champions League looking probable, talk of a crisis at Stamford Bridge is wide of the mark. Conte’s typically passionate celebration at full-time against Bournemouth underlined his commitment to the club.