Belfast Telegraph

Chelsea continue winning run but Premier League rivals keep pace

Chelsea set a new club record by sealing their 12th Premier League win in a row with a 3-0 victory over Bournemouth on Boxing Day.

Pedro scored twice, either side of a second-half penalty from the excellent Eden Hazard, as Chelsea continued their relentless charge and surpassed the 11 consecutive victories secured under Carlo Ancelotti in 2009.

In December last year, defeat at home to Bournemouth contributed to the end of Jose Mourinho's tenure at Stamford Bridge but 12 months on, Antonio Conte's men sit seven points clear at the top of the Premier League table.

Manchester City, Arsenal and Manchester United all won to stay in touch and the gap could be reduced to six by third-placed Liverpool, who host Stoke on Tuesday.

A routine win over the Cherries, however, represents an ominous statement of intent to the chasing pack, particularly given Chelsea had two key players suspended in Diego Costa, who had scored 13 of their 35 league goals this season, and N'Golo Kante.

Pedro is one of many to have been revitalised under Conte and his superb strike in the 24th minute set Chelsea on their way before Hazard won a penalty shortly after the interval and then converted it for his 12th goal of the campaign. Pedro then added a third in injury time.

Arsenal and Manchester City were both in danger of falling further behind the league leaders until late goals spared their blushes.

Olivier Giroud headed home an 86th-minute winner as Arsenal snatched a 1-0 victory over West Brom while City needed 72 minutes against Hull before Yaya Toure's penalty broke the deadlock.

Kelechi Iheanacho's close-range finish and an own-goal from Curtis Davies made it 3-0, in what was a flattering scoreline for Pep Guardiola's men.

Manchester United endured fewer problems as Mourinho's side eased past relegation battlers Sunderland 3-1 to make it four league wins in a row.

Daley Blind, Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Henrikh Mkhitaryan ensured a miserable return to Old Trafford for Black Cats boss David Moyes, before Fabio Borini's brilliant volley provided some late consolation. Sunderland sit 18th in the table while United stay sixth.

Also languishing in the relegation zone are Swansea, whose poor form shows no sign of abating after a 4-1 defeat at home to resurgent West Ham.

Sections of the Swansea support were calling for manager Bob Bradley to be sacked as a fourth defeat in five matches left their side four points adrift of safety.

Andre Ayew, who left the Liberty Stadium in the summer, Winston Reid, Michail Antonio and Andy Carroll all scored for the Hammers. Fernando Llorente was on target for the hosts.

Reigning champions Leicester have now managed only one win in nine as Kevin Mirallas and Romelu Lukaku earned a 2-0 win for Everton, while Andre Gray's late strike sealed Burnley a valuable 1-0 victory over Middlesbrough.

Boro goalkeeper Victor Valdes was left red-faced as he allowed Gray's shot to spill out of his hands and over the line.

In the day's early kick-off, Sam Allardyce was denied a winning start as Crystal Palace manager after his side were held to a 1-1 draw by Watford.

It could have been very different had Christian Benteke converted a first-half penalty to give Palace a two-goal lead but the striker missed and Troy Deeney slammed home his own spot-kick to secure Watford a point. Yohan Cabaye had earlier put the Eagles ahead.


From Belfast Telegraph