Chelsea gave their title credentials a massive boost on Saturday as they comfortably beat Newcastle 3-0 at Stamford Bridge. With Arsenal getting hammered 5-1 by Liverpool at Anfield and Manchester City being held to a goalless draw by Norwich at Carrow Road, the victory for Jose Mourinho’s side moves them to the top of the Premier League table and – despite the Portuguese boss suggesting otherwise – they are now in pole position for the title.
The Blues now have amassed a total of 56 points from their 25 games with a goal difference of plus 27; Arsenal are in second on 55 points with a plus 22 goal difference and City are third on 54 with the best goal difference in the division of plus 41. While it is almost certainly a race between the current top three, Liverpool still have an outside chance of sneaking into contention as they are on 50 points with a goal difference of plus 33. But we think it’s going to be between Chelsea and City (Arsenal are showing signs of their annual crumble so might do well to hold on to a top three finish).
Saturday’s win over Newcastle was Chelsea’s seventh victory in their last eight top flight games and was thanks to a fine hat-trick from Belgian genius Eden Hazard. A fine drive into the bottom corner for the opener set the ball rolling for the home side after 27 minutes, but it was the second goal which impressed the most: Hazard passed to Samuel Eto’o and the Cameroonian back-heeled into the Belgian’s path before a cool finish gave Tim Krul no chance.
Hazard’s third goal – in the 63rd minute – came from the penalty spot after Eto’o was rugby tackled in the area by Mapou Yanga-Mbiwa at a corner, and it capped off a solid display that will please Mourinho no end, not least because his side were able to take a good proportion of the chances they created, which has not been the case too often this season.
Alan Pardew bemoaned the fact that some of his key players were missing through injury, but his men put up a reasonable fight at the Bridge, creating 12 goal-scoring opportunities (to Chelsea’s 18) with six shots on target (to the home side’s eight). The difference was that Chelsea took their chances and Newcastle stuttered and lacked composure in the final third.
Mourinho is almost certainly playing mind games or attempting to keep the pressure off his players when suggesting City are still favourites for the title. Given the Blues have done the double over Manuel Pellegrini’s men this season and also have the easier run-in, we are confident the Special One not only knows his side have a great chance of winning the title but that he fully expects they will do so. If they continue to put in commanding performances such as the one they exhibited on Saturday we are inclined to agree.