Diego Costa and Eden Hazard scored to lead Chelsea past a feisty Leicester side 2-0 at Stamford Bridge on Saturday. With the win, Chelsea went joint-top of the Premier League, ahead of Swansea on goal difference. Arsenal will meet Everton in Liverpool in the late game.
Leicester were excellent value today at Stamford Bridge, going toe to toe with Chelsea in an entertaining game that was finally and somewhat cruelly decided by Diego Costa’s goal on the stroke of an hour.
After a dull first half that saw a lot of half chances spurned, the match exploded in a twenty-minute burst that saw a flurry of chances for both teams. Kasper Schmeichel first stopped a great effort from Branislav Ivanovic, while David Nugent spurned a glittering chance at the other end, only to be denied by a sprawling stop by Thibaut Courtois.
Schmeichel would continue to come under heavy pressure, with Cesc Fabregas forcing a one-handed and awkward stop when he was slipped in alone at the near post. And as the minutes ground on, Leicester became compressed, unable to break the pressure with balls out to the lively Jeff Schlupp out on the left flank.
Costa would break the deadlock when Ivanovic was allowed to ghost in on the right side, and center for Costa. The new boy chested the ball down, and with Schmeichel steaming out, slammed the ball under the keeper and into the net. Hazard would seal the points 15 minutes later with a fine piece of individual skill.
Alone on the left flank, Hazard froze Marc Albrighton, racing in and firing through the legs of Ritchie De Laet to screen Schmeichel. The shot took a cut off defender Wes Morgan, and the keeper was helpless to keep it out of his own net.
Elsewhere in London, managerless Crystal Palace slumped to a defeat in their home opener, with Mauro Zarate, Carlton Cole and Stewart Downing scoring to lead West Ham to a 3-1 win. Palace looked all over the shop for much of the game, with Julian Speroni forced into making a series of yeoman saves just to keep the scoreline that close.
Downing’s goal, a lovely inside-out move set up by Cheikhou Kouyate, was one for the highlight reels and the Hammers fully deserved their lead at the interval. In contrast, Palace had precious few chances at the other end, with Damien Delaney hitting the side net late in the half, and Marouane Chamakh well-shackled.
But Palace would fine the net after the break with the former Arsenal man driving a low shot through traffic and in past Adrian. Mile Jedniak, as so often has been the case, was the creator, knocking a long ball down and centering for the gangly Moroccan. That sparked some hope at Selhurst, quickly extinguished when Cole ripped one in on the hour. Mark Noble’s flighted freekick was flicked on by Ricardo Vaz Te, and Damien Delaney lamely headed the ball down into Cole’s path. It was a gift and it killed the game.
There was little to remark on at St. Mary’s, where Southampton and West Bromwich Albion slunk to an unremarkable 0-0 draw. The closest anyone came to deciding the game was when James Ward-Prowse pinged a long free kick off the outside of the post with twenty minutes to play.
In Wales, Swansea got an early goal from Nathan Dyer and then withstood a stiff second half challenge from Burnley to collect a 1-0 home win. Ben Mee allowed a long ball from Gylfi Sigurdsson to roll past him, and Dyer calmly ran about 30 yards to beat Tom Heaton with ease. The Clarets roared back after the break, however, forcing keeper Lukasz Fabianski into a fingertip stop on David Jones to deny a certain goal. Lukas Jutkiewicz also missed a free header in the match, showing that Burnley still have a lot of distance to make up to compete at the highest level.
In the early game, Aston Villa were held to a 0-0 draw by Newcastle despite seeing the Magpies reduced to ten men late on. Mike Williamson was sent off for a second yellow card after a professional foul on Fabian Delph, but Villa were unable to capitalize, failing to muster a single shot on goal all game long.
Newcastle are little better: so far this young season, they have failed to find the net though Siem De Jong had the best chance of a very average game when he forced a save from Brad Guzan late at the keeper’s near post.