Tammy Abraham hit a quickfire late double on Monday as Chelsea beat West Ham 3-0 to reignite their Premier League challenge after a consecutive defeats.
The Hammers proved tricky opponents at an empty Stamford Bridge but lacked the firepower to hurt Frank Lampard’s men, who led early through Thiago Silva’s bullet header.
Chelsea enjoyed a strong start to the season before losses to Everton and Wolves checked their progress but the victory at the London Stadium lifts them into fifth spot.
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Champions Liverpool have opened up a five-point gap at the top of the table but behind them, just seven points separate second-placed Leicester from 11th-placed Wolves.
“It was nice to see that at the end because we had a period at 1-0 where it was tough, we dealt with that well,” Lampard told the BBC.
“We dropped off slightly and it was important tonight we came back,” he added. “There were loads of things for the team to show their character — we want more.
“Christmas has been changed for everybody this year. For the lads we just have to prepare for Arsenal, it’s a busy time of year for us.”
West Ham had the ball in the net in the seventh minute after a cleverly worked free kick but Declan Rice was denied by the off-side flag after an impressive finish from a tight angle.
Three minutes later Chelsea were in front when Silva powered home a header from Mason Mount’s corner.
The Brazilian found the net from close range after a well-timed run, leaving West Ham goalkeeper Lukasz Fabianski rooted to the spot.
Chelsea enjoyed the lion’s share of possession after their goal without creating much of note but West Ham worked their way into the game as the half wore on.
Timo Werner, who joined Chelsea for $A80m and has not scored since early November, had a golden chance to double their lead in the closing minutes of the first period but got the ball caught under his feet and Fabianski saved comfortably.
David Moyes’s team made life uncomfortable for the home side after the break but did not make the most of their regular forays forward despite the introduction of forward Said Benrahma.
They were made to pay when Abraham, back in the starting XI, doubled Chelsea’s lead with 12 minutes to go, settling their nerves and ending his own drought.
Werner cut inside and saw his scuffed shot tapped in by the England international, who was played onside by Aaron Cresswell.
Two minutes later Chelsea were 3-0 up when Abraham fired home from a tight angle after Fabianski had done well to keep out Christian Pulisic’s header.
That made it the eighth time Chelsea have scored at least three goals in a Premier League match this season — and they nearly had a fourth when Werner struck the crossbar with two minutes left.
The win lifts Chelsea to 25 points — one behind fourth-placed Everton — while West Ham stay in 10th place.
ANOTHER BLOW FOR ARSENAL
Burnley rediscovered their sharpness in front of goal to beat Wolves 2-1 on Monday and climb out of the Premier League’s relegation zone.
They now sit just one point behind under-fire Arsenal with a game in hand.
Wolves boss Nuno Espirito Santo took aim at referee Lee Mason after the game.
“This is a problem, we know. We had Lee Mason before,” Nuno told Sky Sports.
“It is not about the crucial mistake or decisions, it is about how he handles the game.
“The players get nervous – he whistles from the noises from the players. We are talking about the best competition, but he does not have the quality to whistle the game.
“I told him I hope he does not whistle a game of ours again. He cannot control the players; the players are constantly arguing. The other referees let the game flow.”
This is despite Mason awarding an average of 19.8 fouls per game – only two refs have a lower average.
Moving on from that drama, it was a crucial win for Burnley.
Scoring has been a headache for Sean Dyche’s men, who had netted just six goals in 12 top-flight games before the match.
But goals from Ashley Barnes and Chris Wood extended their unbeaten league run to four matches, lifting them to 16th in the table.
Wolves started brightly at Turf Moor, with Pedro Neto testing Burnley goalkeeper Nick Pope after a driving run midway through the first period, but the threat from the home side grew as the half wore on.
Barnes put Burnley ahead in the 35th minute after a quick counter attack, heading home at the far post after a cross from Charlie Taylor.
It was his first goal in the Premier League since November 2019, ending a run of 970 minutes played in the competition without finding the net.
Burnley continued to threaten and Josh Brownhill hit the crossbar with a right-footed shot from outside the box shortly after the restart.
But they doubled their lead in the 51st minute after Wolves failed to deal with Ashley Westwood’s free-kick.
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Ben Mee headed the ball back into the danger zone where it came off Rayan Ait-Nouri before Wood blasted it into the roof of the net from point-blank range.
Wolves boss Nuno Espirito Santo threw on Adama Traore and Fabio Silva as he sought a way back into the game.
The away side dominated possession but could not find a way through the disciplined Burnley rearguard.
Wolves earned themselves a lifeline when teenager Silva scored from the penalty spot in the 89th minute after he was brought down by Josh Benson.
But despite late pressure from Wolves, Burnley held on to secure all three points.