Antonio Conte’s first match in charge of Chelsea in the Premier League ended on a successful note as a penalty from Eden Hazard and a late strike from Diego Costa saw off a decent fight from West Ham United at Stamford Bridge.
Chelsea came into the game with an impressive record of not losing the last 13 season openers, but the opponents in West Ham surely made them work hard to earn all 3 points for the 14th occasion.
Let us take a look at all the major talking points from the encounter at Stamford Bridge.
Hazard and Diego Costa look much sharper
Chelsea had a rather forgettable season last time around to say the least. Chelsea made an awful mess of the defence of their Premier League title as problems on and off the field made them look shabby on most occassions. Their total tally of 50 points also made them the least points scored by a defending champions in the Premier League.
And one name that was talked about for the lack of performance was that of Eden Hazard. The Belgian was an important figure in Jose Mourinho’s title winning return to the Premier League but was a shadow of himself last season. Going by the season opener against Westham, Hazard has put that season behind him and looked much effective for Conte. It was a big question whether Conte can bring back the best out of Hazard and the Belgian, who had an impressive Uefa Euro tournament in France, backed that up with an impressive display in the first game. Eventually he became the first scorer under the Conte era as he confidently thumped in a penalty in the second half. Only Cesar Azpilicueta had more touches than Eden Hazard in the entire game. This shows a lot about the involvement the Begian had in yesterdays match.
Another name that had a notable dip in form is Diego Costa. The Spaniard made more headlines for the wrong reasons last season and had question marks about his future under Conte ahead of the season. But the striker showed more promise and hunger this time out and was much sharper. Costa ended the game as the hero of the Bridge as his late precisive shot proved to be the decisive strike as Chelsea won the game 2-1.
Costa was much more involved in open play and his link up play with the midfielders gave glimpses of why he is considered a deadly frontman.