LONDON â€” Antonio Conte waited more than four months for revenge against Arsenal. With a 3-1 victory over Arsenal at Stamford Bridge on Saturday, the wait was worth it for the Italian manager as Chelsea remained nine points clear at the top of the Premier League.
The convincing win more than compensated for Chelsea’s 3-0 defeat by London rival Arsenal at the Emirates in September.
On Saturday, from the moment Marcus Alonso scored the opening goal after 13 minutes, there was only going to be one winner. Eden Hazard’s sublime second goal was greeted with raucous celebrations from players, manager and fans. By the time Cesc Fabregas added a third, Arsenal was well beaten.
For all Conte’s insistence that the title race is far from over, it is going to take a monumental drop in form by Chelsea for a rival to have a serious chance.
Sixteen wins in 18 games since that Arsenal defeat is emblematic of just how Conte has got to grips with English football.
Like former Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho, Conte has a reputation as a strong disciplinarian who drills his team hard.
But where Mourinho seemingly fell out with senior players and accused them of betrayal in his second spell, Conte has fostered team unity. The Midas touch he brought to Juventus, where he won three consecutive Serie A titles, has been transferred to west London.
He has made Chelsea hard to beat and instilled a killer instinct that was evident again against Arsenal on Saturday.
Tottenham consolidated second place with a 1-0 home win over Middlesbrough in the evening game but with fourth-placed Liverpool losing 2-0 at Hull, Chelsea is sitting pretty.
Here’s the rest of Saturday’s action:
TOTTENHAM 1, MIDDLESBROUGH 0
Harry Kane’s second-half penalty proved decisive for Spurs.
Kane made no mistake from the spot after Son Heung-Min had tumbled under a challenge from Bernardo.
Middlesbrough, in 15th place but only one point above the relegation zone, wasted a chance to grab a draw in stoppage time as Alvaro Negredo volleyed wide.
HULL 2, LIVERPOOL 0
Liverpool’s hopes of making a Premier League title challenge appear over after its poor run continued with defeat at relegation-threatened Hull.
Juergen Klopp’s side, with only one win in its last 10 games in all competitions, was sunk by a goal in each half from newcomer Alfred N’Diaye and Oumar Niasse.
Liverpool, which drew midweek against Chelsea after three straight defeats, is still without a league win this year and now trails league leader Chelsea by 13 points.
EVERTON 6, BOURNEMOUTH 3
Romelu Lukaku scored four goals, his first after just 30 seconds, in Everton’s demolition of Bournemouth.
His lightning strike was the joint fastest in the Premier League this season, equaling Chelsea’s Pedro who also scored after 30 seconds against Manchester United in October.
Everton led 3-0 at halftime and appeared to be cruising before two goals from Joshua King gave the Cherries some hope.
But Lukaku ended any hopes of a comeback with a quick double strike and Ross Barkley rounded off the fun at Goodison Park after Harry Arter’s third for Bournemouth.
CRYSTAL PALACE 0, SUNDERLAND 4
Sunderland left its former manager Sam Allardyce stunned by routing Crystal Palace in this battle of two sides fighting to avoid relegation.
Allardyce, struggling to make an impact with Palace, looked on aghast as his side was taken apart as Jermain Defoe scored twice with all the goals coming in a one-sided first half at Selhurst Park.
The home side were booed off at the break and one fan was arrested after invading the pitch in an apparent attempt to confront Palace defender Damien Delaney, who did not reappear for the second half.
SOUTHAMPTON 1, WEST HAM 3
Defender Jose Fonte made a winning return to St Mary’s as his new side West Ham came from a goal down to beat Southampton.
Saints did score first through new signing Manolo Gabbiadini but Andy Carroll, Pedro Obiang and Mark Noble replied to turn the game West Ham’s way.
WEST BROM 1, STOKE 0
James Morrison’s third goal in five Premier League games earned the Baggies a deserved victory to leave it eighth in the standings and eyeing a push for a Europa League place.
Morrison ran behind the Stoke defence and fired across Lee Grant for the game’s only goal after six minutes.
New Stoke signing Saido Berahino made a quick return to the Hawthorns after joining from West Brom last month. Berahino came on as a second-half substitute.
WATFORD 2, BURNLEY 1
Burnley had Jeff Hendrick sent off early on as its dreadful away form in the Premier League continued.
First-half headers from Troy Deeney and January signing M’Baye Niang were enough for the Hornets to seal a 2-1 win after Hendrick was shown a straight red card after six minutes for a reckless two-footed challenge.
Burnley has secured just a single away point this season with its other 28 coming at home.
Justin Palmer, The Associated Press