By James Agberebi: Despite resting star forward Eden Hazard, Chelsea still went on to thrash Stoke 5-0 in the Premier League at Stamford Bridge on Saturday. Super Eagles forward Victor Moses was in action for Chelsea, making his 14th league appearance of the season before he was replaced by Davide Zappacosta on 57 minutes.
Chelsea got off to the perfect start as Antonio Ruediger opened the scoring on just three minutes after heading in Willian’s well struck free-kick.
In the ninth minute Chelsea went 2-0 up thanks to Danny Drinkwater who opened his goals account for the Blues as he brought the ball down with his first touch before hitting a right-footed shot into the top corner.
Pedro Rodriguez got on the score sheet to make it 3-0 in the 23rd minute as he collected Willian pass beat his marker before curling a low strike into the bottom corner.
In the 39th minute, Stoke thought they had pulled a goal back through Mame Biram Diouf but he was adjudged to have controlled the ball with his arm.
Chelsea extended their lead to 4-0 on 73 minutes as Willian scored from the penalty spot, slotting his effort down the middle after he was fouled by Geoff Cameron.
And in the 88th minute Davide Zappacosta scored Chelsea’s fifth goal as he pounced on a poor clearance by the Stoke defence as he drilled his effort in from the edge of the box.
The win was Chelsea’s fifth straight league win since their 1-0 away defeat to West Ham on December 9.
They temporarily usurped Manchester United into second place and are now on 45 points, 13 points adrift of leaders Manchester City who have a game in hand.
Also on Saturday, a brace from Egypt’s Mohamed Salah saw Liverpool come from 1-0 down to beat Leicester City 2-1 at Anfield.
Super Eagles forward Ahmed Musa made Leicester’s matchday squad in the league for the first time this season. Wilfred Ndidi was on from the start as usual, while Kelechi Iheanacho was not in the matchday squad.
Leicester took the lead in the third minute through Jamie Vardy who scored from close range after he was unselfishly teed up by Riyad Mahrez.
In the 52nd minute, Liverpool were back on level terms thanks to Salah who raced on to Sadio Mane’s back heel, burst through Leicester defence before finishing for his 16th league goal of the season.
Salah doubled Liverpool’s lead in the 76th minute as he collected James Milner’s flick, shrugged off his marker before slotting the ball into the bottom corner.
Liverpool now occupy the fourth position on 41 points while Leicester, who have not won any of their last five games in all competitions, are eighth on 27 points.
At the Vitality Stadium, Sam Allardyce suffered his first defeat as Everton boss as his side lost 2-1 to Bournemouth.
The Toffees had gone seven league games (four wins and three draws) with defeat, with their last defeat coming in a 4-1 away loss to Southampton on November 26.
And at Vicarage Road, Carlos Carvalhal got his first game for Swansea to a winning note after coming from behind to beat Watford 2-1.
In other games, Newcastle were to a 0-0 home draw by Brighton and Hove Albion, while Burnley also forced Huddersfield to a 0-0 away draw.
Chelsea 5 vs 0 Stoke
Liverpool 2 vs 1 Leicester
Bournemouth 2 vs 1 Everton
Watford 1 vs 2 Swansea
Huddersfield 0 vs 0 Burnley
Newcastle 0 vs 0 Brighton