Eden Hazard’s dazzling solo goal was exactly the spark Chelsea needed as they deservedly lead at the interval, with West Ham lucky the damage isn’t worse.
The Belgium international dropped into the pocket of space halfway between the halfway line and collected Ruben Loftus-Cheek’s pass and the rest is all about the Belgian, drifting through two challenges, dancing past the centre-backs before slotting into the bottom corner.
Higuain and Hudson-Odoi both came close to doubling the Blues’ lead, as they are 45 minutes away from climbing to third in the Premier League table.
The Blues would love a second goal shortly after the restart, as it would give them the luxury of giving some key players a rest with there being such a short turnaround to Thursday trip to Prague.
For West Ham, Arnautovic’s dip in form seems to be creeping into their other attacking players as they’ve hardly troubled Chelsea through 45 minutes.
Plenty for Manuel Pellegrini to discuss in the West Ham dressing room.
Gonzalo Higuain has expressed his desire to stay at Chelsea next season.
The 31-year-old striker joined on loan from Juventus for the rest of the campaign and has indicated he would like to make it a permanent deal.
Higuain told Chelsea’s website: “From a personal point of view I want to do as well as I can so I can be here for next season. That’s my intention.
“I came here and I wanted to stay. It’s a good city, you live well, and you can be relaxed but also enjoy yourself. I’m happy here. It’s always nice to try a new league and it’s my first taste of the Premier League.”
Chelsea boss Maurizio Sarri has revealed his intention to sign Mateo Kovacic on a permanent deal.
The midfielder joined Chelsea on loan during the summer as part of the deal which saw Thibaut Courtois sign for Real Madrid.
Sarri believes he is getting in tune with the way he wants the game to be played.
Sarri has been questioned for opting to play Jorginho and Kovavic deeper in midfield than the more naturally-defensive N’Golo Kante, who has played a more attacking role, this season, reports Sky Sports.
But when asked whether he wanted to enter the market for another midfielder summer, as Chelsea attempt to overturn a two-window transfer ban when their appeal is heard by FIFA this Thursday, Sarri said: “No, I want to try with Kovacic.
“He is only on loan, of course, but I’d like very much that Kovacic will stay with us. You know very well that, in that position, we have some problems because we have only Jorginho.
“In my opinion, Kovacic could become a very good central midfielder. Of course, he is not a defensive midfielder (at the moment) but, as you know, in that position I prefer a very technical player.
“In the last match, Jorginho touched 161 balls. So, for us, it’s very important for us to have big quality in that position. Big quality not for the last pass, but big quality in terms of moving the ball.”
Reports in Spain claim Real Madrid president Florentino Perez has decided not to sign a new striker this summer due to the recent form of Karim Benzema.
Madrid have suffered notable problems in front of goal this season with just 55 strikes in their 31 La Liga outings this campaign – 26 goals fewer than league leaders Barcelona.
Diario AS points out how Benzema has scored more goals than every other elite European forward this season other than Lionel Messi, Kylian Mbappe, Robert Lewandowski, Krzysztof Piatek, Wissam Ben Yedder and Sergio Aguero.
The 31-year-old has netted a notable 26 goals this season for Los Blancos – two more than Cristiano Ronaldo at Juventus – and has found the net six times in his last five games, reports Football Espana.
Madrid did not replace Ronaldo since his €100m exit to the Italian champions last summer with only Mariano Diaz returning to the club from Lyon but he has failed to cement a first-team place.
The club are still set to invest heavily in their squad this pre-season with Chelsea playmaker Eden Hazard strongly linked with a move.
Reports in Spain and England claim Real Madrid have redoubled their effort sign Manchester United midfielder Paul Pogba by launching ‘Operation Pogba’.
There have been unending speculations over the Los Blancos interest in the Frenchman, especially with the return of Zinedine Zidane to the Santiago Bernabeu.
According to Daily Mail, quoting the Spanish publication Marca, the La Liga giants are putting pressure on his agent Mino Raiola hoping the Italian ‘can apply pressure’ at Old Trafford to lure Pogba away.
Although Madrid manager Zinedine Zidane reportedly expects a ‘drawn-out saga’ to try to bring Pogba to the Bernabeu in the summer transfer window.
Ahead of France’s Euro 2020 qualifying win over Moldova last month, Pogba was quizzed on interest from Spain.
‘Like I’ve always said, Real Madrid is a dream for anyone. It’s one of the biggest clubs in the world,’ he said.
‘There is also Zidane as a coach and it’s a dream for anybody who likes football. For now, I’m at Manchester. We don’t know what the future holds. I’m at Manchester and I’m happy.’