Claudio Ranieri and his champion Leicester City came for a visit to the Bridge, and found a Chelsea team well in the mood to host. First-half goals from Diego Costa and Eden Hazard, and a late strike from Victor Moses gave the champions of two years ago an impressive win over the champions of last season. After a pair of damaging losses to Liverpool and Arsenal, back-to-back comfortable victories have now brought back an atmosphere of stability to the club.
Complaints over international breaks are the norm, but the most recent round of worldwide qualifying fixtures was welcomed as it allowed Chelsea two weeks to train and learn our new 3-4-3 formation.
What followed was a feast for the eyes, and a calming of our hearts. The dull 4-2-3-1 formations of recent times seem to be well in the past now; the genuine enjoyment of the players palpably visible. Chelsea started on the front foot, with tireless running from the full backs and quick and accurate passing by the midfielders allowing us to get an early grip on the game and never let go. Leicester's title winning defence lacked sharpness throughout, and it took just seven minutes for Diego Costa to find his seventh goal of the season and continue his sharp form.
50 - Diego Costa has had a hand in 50 Premier League goals for Chelsea (39 goals, 11 assists) in just 62 games. Talisman.— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) October 15, 2016
The Blues then set to work on killing the game off. Chelsea's appetite was reflected in David Luiz's all-action display. From spraying passes all over the pitch, to overhead kicks in the opposition's penalty area, to interceptions and tackles on the halfway line, to peppering Kasper Schmeichel with powerful dipping free kicks, the center most of our center backs was close to winning the match all by himself. But we didn't have to wait too long for the two-goal cushion to arrive.
Say what you will about Pedro, he works energetically for the team and goals tend to accompany him. Leicester City brought a tough tackling attitude, but they couldn't have expected Pedro's bit of improvisation that provided Hazard with the goalmouth opportunity. Nemanja Matic, powerful all day in midfield, booted a pass in towards Pedro, who, while falling over, still managed to play the ball forward. The ball was taken wide of the keeper, and the finish applied.
Eden Hazard made noteworthy comments over the international break, telling of his preference for a central number 10 role. Antonio Conte seems to realise that Hazard is unsuited to running up and down the left wing and backing up his fullback in defence. The goal provides an example that this switch for Hazard has the potential to wreak havoc.
It was understood by all that Leicester had one eye on their Champions League commitments midweek, but they returned to the pitch for the second half willing to give Chelsea a tougher fight for the three points. The damage never came as Conte introduced Chalobah as a third man in midfield. Young Nate was up for the game, and staked a claim for many more minutes as he shored up the middle with imposing pressing, intelligent passing and skilful attacking. Still running, Moses was the benefactor of a creative backheel from Chalobah and he finished well for a deserved goal.
Three goals to the good, the three points secure, Antonio Conte decided to leave Costa on the pitch and instead allow Loftus-Cheek and Ola Aina to join the fun. Any concern about a booking and subsequent ban was controlled by Costa. In my eyes, the fans' chanting of "Diego" is truly inspiring to the player.
Tougher competition will come, as soon as the very next matchday up against Manchester United, but for now we are all very ‘appi. Roman Abramovich stood in the stands with a smile as broad as any fan.