Chelsea, Man City hold course
Leaders Chelsea and nearest rivals Manchester City preserved the status quo at the top of the Premier League table with a pair of unspectacular victories on Saturday.
Eden Hazard and Diego Costa scored as Chelsea won 2-0 at home to Hull City, who had Tom Huddlestone sent off, while champions City beat Leicester City 1-0 despite losing Edin Dzeko and Vincent Kompany to injury.
Chelsea remain three points clear of City, who opened up an eight-point lead over Manchester United ahead of Louis van Gaal’s side’s home game with Liverpool on Sunday.
West Ham United squandered an opportunity to claim third place after being held to a 1-1 draw at Sunderland, while fifth-place Southampton’s downturn in form continued as they fell to a fourth straight loss at Burnley.
A minor injury to Thibaut Courtois meant that Petr Cech made his first league start of the season in goal for Chelsea, who were bidding to bounce back from last weekend’s 2-1 defeat at Newcastle.
“It was not a special performance; it was just a good-enough performance,” said Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho. “We were never in trouble.”
Manchester City registered a seventh successive win in all competitions, but victory at the King Power Stadium came at the cost of injuries to striker Dzeko and captain Kompany.
West Ham remain fourth after their draw at Sunderland. Stewart Downing equalised for the visitors with a low, deflected shot shortly after Jordi Gomez had put the hosts ahead from the penalty spot in the 22nd minute.
Burnley climbed out of the relegation zone by beating Southampton 1-0 at Turf Moor, with Ashley Barnes claiming a 73rd-minute winner after Southampton winger Dusan Tadic’s penalty was saved by Tom Heaton.
Craig Gardner scored the only goal as West Bromwich Albion won 1-0 at home to his formative club Aston Villa, who had West Brom old boy Kieran Richardson dismissed for a studs-up lunge on Stephane Sessegnon.
Meanwhile, Stoke City striker Peter Crouch swiftly cancelled out a headed 11th-minute opener by James McArthur as Mark Hughes’s team claimed a 1-1 draw at Crystal Palace.
Leicester City 0 Man City 1
Sunderland 1 West Ham 1
Crystal Palace 1 Stoke City 1
Burnley 1 Southampton 0
Chelsea 2 Hull City 0
West Brom 1 Aston Villa 0