Chelsea’s title credentials have not really been in doubt for several months but the manner of their 3-0 win over Everton suggests they are no mood to allow nerves to get the better of them.
For more than an hour it remained goalless at Goodison Park but the air of confidence Antonio Conte’s side carry meant it never felt as though they were in danger and there was a certain inevitability about the goals from Pedro, Gary Cahill and substitute Willian in the final 25 minutes.
That was not taking anything away from their opener – an unstoppable strike from the former Barcelona forward – but it was another of those typically attritional performances in which their quality ultimately shines through.
Chelsea took a while to get going at Goodison (Getty)
The Premier League leaders began the day four points ahead of Tottenham, kicking off later in the north London derby at home to Arsenal, knowing any slip would give their rivals all the ammunition they needed to ramp up the pressure in the title race.
That opportunity never materialised as Chelsea became only the second team to win a league match at Goodison in the last year, with the Toffees having gone eight matches unbeaten at home since December.
Chelsea struggled in the first half (Getty)
Everton were missing Morgan Schneiderlin, who sustained a thigh injury in training on Friday, and with Idrissa Gana Gueye tasked with the man-marking job on his former Lille team-mate Eden Hazard it effectively left the hosts one short in midfield.
Thankfully they had energetic 18-year-old Tom Davies prepared to put in the leg work with fellow youngster Dominic Calvert-Lewin dropping back to assist on the left.
However, Calvert-Lewin could have had an even greater impact going the other way as inside 70 seconds his near-post shot beat Thibaut Courtois but rebounded off the upright and Lukaku’s shot was blocked by Cahill.
Pedro set Chelsea on their way (Getty)
Gueye’s job for the day meant there were…