Eden Hazard and Fernando Torres applied the gloss to a workmanlike 2-0 victory at Hull City that lifted Chelsea ominously to the top of the Premier League on Saturday. In true Jose Mourinho style, Chelsea first nullified the minimal threat posed by Hull, then cut through at will after the break when classy goals by Hazard and Torres earned the Blues a fourth consecutive league victory.
Mourinho's side have 46 points, one more than Arsenal who play Aston Villa on Monday and two more than Manchester City who travel to Newcastle on Sunday. "Do we like to be leaders? Yes, we like, but maybe tomorrow we are second and maybe Monday we are third," Mourinho said.
"The important thing is that we all know we are going in the right direction." Everton are also on the up, rising to fourth with 41 points courtesy of a 2-0 home win over Norwich City and Tottemham Hotspur have 40 in fifth after beating Crystal Palace 2-0. With Sunderland winning 4-1 at Fulham and West Ham United 2-0 at Cardiff City, Palace now prop up the table. New West Bromwich Albion manager Pepe Mel watched his new club lose 1-0 at Southampton. Chelsea enjoyed a largely stress-free Saturday lunchtime in Hull with Hazard providing the spark throughout. He fired a low shot home 10 minutes after the break and Spain striker Torres marked his 200th Premier League appearance with a clinical late strike.
A thoroughly satisfying day for Mourinho also witnessed goalkeeper Petr Cech set a new club record of 209 clean sheets, 150 of them in the Premier League. Cech was barely troubled as he edged in front of Peter Bonetti, his only save of note coming from Jake Livermore's swerving effort before halftime. Without setting the league on fire Chelsea are beginning to hit top gear at just the right time, churning out wins and cleans sheets as they did in Mourinho's first stint.
"Today we had the extra pressure of not losing the chance to be top even for a few hours. I feel the team is improving step by step, all the players are stable and the young players are improving, you can feel the evolution in the team." Hazard was Hull's chief tormentor.After a dull start the Belgian carved out Chelsea's first chance after half an hour, teeing up Oscar with a neat pull back, but the Brazilian's point-blank shot was brilliantly turned over the crossbar by Allan McGregor. McGregor also had to be on his toes to deal with a dipping shot from David Luiz before halftime as Chelsea gradually asserted their superiority.
Hazard finally broke through after 56 minutes. Some great inter-play between Luiz and Ashley Cole on the left worked the ball into Hazard and he skipped across to his right before drilling a low shot past McGregor. One goal looked like being enough for the Londoners but Torres made absolutely sure of the points after 87 minutes when his near-post blast flew past McGregor. Champions Manchester United will try to snap a three-match losing run when they host Swansea City in the late kick-off, a week after the Welsh side knocked them out of the FA Cup.