Chelsea put in a measured and confident performance on Saturday in East Yorkshire to beat Hull 2-0, a victory which moved Jose Mourinho’s men to the top of the Premier League (at least temporarily, prior to the Sunday matches).
The match always looked like being a tricky one for the Blue given Hull had previously beaten Liverpool 3-1 and hit Fulham for six at the KC. But the visitors played with an assurance and patience that will have pleased their Portuguese boss, and though they didn’t create a lot in the first 45, they were never put under any serious pressure.
It was goalless at the break, which was a fair reflection of a fairly dour first half spectacle, but after the interval Chelsea began playing with more invention, with – inevitably – Eden Hazard pulling the strings in the centre of the park. Indeed it was Hazard who got the breakthrough after 56 minutes, the Belgian latching on to a flick from Ashley Cole before jinking along the edge of the area and hitting a low strike into the corner. It was Hazard’s 11th goal of the season in all competitions and if he maintains his excellent strike rate the Blues will have a great chance of keeping pace with Man City and Arsenal in the title race.
Once the first goal had been scored there was only ever going to be one winner, and rather than shutting up shop Chelsea appeared to play with more freedom after they had scored the opener. Despite Steve Bruce’s men trying hard to force themselves back into the game, things weren’t going their way and, as gaps began to appear in the Tigers’ backline, Chelsea were able to double their lead, a fine strike from nearly 20 yards from an otherwise quiet Fernando Torres giving Allan McGregor no chance in the Hull goal.
Another clean sheet (Chelsea’s fourth in their last five league matches) was another big plus for the Blues, not least because it meant Petr Cech earned his 209th clean sheet for the club, beating Peter Bonetti’s long-standing record. Cech has been one of the most consistent goalkeepers in recent history and this latest clean sheet was his 150th in the Premier League, just 20 short of David James’s all-time Premier League record. If Cech keeps performing as he has for the last few years he’ll get to that milestone before too long.
So all in all it was a good day at the office for Chelsea: a solid win away from home against tough opposition, a clean sheet and, believe it or not, a goal from a striker! Mourinho will have gone home a happy man and more confident than ever that he can guide his side to Premier League glory this season. And there’s a tasty fixture coming up next weekend: Man United at Stamford Bridge. In the mood they are in at the moment, the Blues will relish the chance to seize victory over the champions.