The first change was on the teamsheet. Cesc Fabregas, hero of the 2014/15 title charge, was benched in favour of a more recent vintage. Kante’s part in leading Leicester City to the least probable Premier League title ever cannot be overstated, but he fulfills a very different role to the man he replaced in the lineup.Kante endured a slightly nervy start, taking a soft yellow card for a foul on Andy Carroll in the third minute.
Kante was flanked by Nemanja Matic and Oscar in a 4-3-3. Both are players with something to prove this year — Matic’s revival will be particularly important if a real top-four challenge is to materialise — and they can be very pleased with their performances on the night.
Hazard’s willingness to take players on recalled the glories of the 2014/15 campaign. If he’s returning to top form, Chelsea fans can take real heart.Chelsea eventually got a 1-0 lead early in the second half as Caesar Azpilicueta was impeded in the box by Antonio and Eden Hazard blasted the ball into the net from the penalty spot for the lead.
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With 13 minutes left, Andy Carroll won West Ham a free-kick. Payet, finally on, swung the corner and it fell to James Collins on the edge of the box, who somehow found the top corner of the net to make it 1-1. It was West Ham’s first chance, but a fair punishment for a Chelsea side who had taken their eyes off what they were meant to be doing.
Conte had to throw everything at West Ham to get back into the game, and introduced Pedro, Victor Moses and new signing Michy Batshuayi from the bench. West Ham gifted them possession and Matic picked out Batshuayi with a long ball. He won the flick on and it fell to Costa, 20 yards from goal, with neithr West Ham centre-back coming out to challenge. Costa looked up, gathered himself, and found the bottom corner.