It was a case of the status quo being observedat the summit of the Premier League for Chelsea and Manchester City yesterday,as the hectic holiday season of matches began with the traditional round ofBoxing Day fixtures. With twogames in three days for the teams over the Yuletide period, it is usually atime when the larger squads take advantage of their strength in depth and so itseemed to prove again.

Chelseakicked off the action in the lunchtime match with a London derby against SamAllardyce's in-form West Ham.

The Hammers have been punching above their weightrecently and had muscled their way into the top four, with the returning (from longterm 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 fortheir 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 setup for the first goal and then a confident finish by Costa himself for thedecisive second.

The Hammers battled to the end, but found the solid Blues’defence in determined mood with Terry and Gary Cahill once more maintaining aclean sheet.

Not tobe outdone, last season's title winners, Manchester City disposed of West Brom3-1 at the Hawthorns, with the game effectively over before the break as Citywere already three goals to the good by then. Ben Foster uncharacteristically misjudgeda spinning cross to drop the ball in the area, but Fernandinho still had plentyto 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 byJoleon Lescott.

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The third was the best of all, as the Baggies were guilty oflosing possession to allow City to break on them, with Silva ending a swiftmove by guiding his left foot shot unerringly into the corner of the net.

WestHam had several chances of their own to score, with Saido Berahino guilty ofwasting two good openings and Lescott heading over from close range, beforethey got a consolation goal from Brown Ideye. Joe Hart fluffed a punchedclearance on to Ideye's head and the ball crept over the line.

Chelsearemain three points clear of City at the top as the two teams seem to beestablishing a gap on the rest, with Manchester United still third after aconvincing 3-1 home win over Newcastle United which included two goals plus anassist for England captain Wayne Rooney, as the Red Devils continue theirresurgence.

Southampton moved back above West Ham into the top four, winning3-1 away at Crystal Palace, as Ronald Koeman’s men seem to be settling backinto their stride after a recent spell of poor results that included defeat inthe Capital One Cup.

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