It was a case of the status quo being observed at the summit of the #Premier League for #Chelsea and #Manchester City yesterday, as the hectic holiday season of matches began with the traditional round of Boxing Day fixtures. With two games in three days for the teams over the Yuletide period, it is usually a time when the larger squads take advantage of their strength in depth and so it seemed to prove again.
Chelsea kicked off the action in the lunchtime match with a London derby against Sam Allardyce's in-form West Ham. The Hammers have been punching above their weight recently and had muscled their way into the top four, with the returning (from long term injury) Andy Carroll and re-invigorated Stewart Downing well to the fore. Jose Mourinho's men were in no need to hand out any festive fun though for their neighbours, as they put in a controlled performance with a 2-0 victory. Their heroes on the day were John Terry with a tap in after Diego Costa’s set up for the first goal and then a confident finish by Costa himself for the decisive second. The Hammers battled to the end, but found the solid Blues’ defence in determined mood with Terry and Gary Cahill once more maintaining a clean sheet.
Not to be outdone, last season's title winners, Manchester City disposed of West Brom 3-1 at the Hawthorns, with the game effectively over before the break as City were already three goals to the good by then. Ben Foster uncharacteristically misjudged a spinning cross to drop the ball in the area, but Fernandinho still had plenty to do as he acrobatically hooked in to the net to open the scoring for City. Their second came from a Yaya Toure penalty after David Silva was caught by Joleon Lescott. The third was the best of all, as the Baggies were guilty of losing possession to allow City to break on them, with Silva ending a swift move by guiding his left foot shot unerringly into the corner of the net.
West Ham had several chances of their own to score, with Saido Berahino guilty of wasting two good openings and Lescott heading over from close range, before they got a consolation goal from Brown Ideye. Joe Hart fluffed a punched clearance on to Ideye's head and the ball crept over the line.
Chelsea remain three points clear of City at the top as the two teams seem to be establishing a gap on the rest, with Manchester United still third after a convincing 3-1 home win over Newcastle United which included two goals plus an assist for England captain Wayne Rooney, as the Red Devils continue their resurgence. Southampton moved back above West Ham into the top four, winning 3-1 away at Crystal Palace, as Ronald Koeman’s men seem to be settling back into their stride after a recent spell of poor results that included defeat in the Capital One Cup.