Álvaro Morata continued his excellent start to the season, scoring Chelsea’s first from close range and setting up the second for Hazard, taking his tally to eight goals and four assists in the league. Marcos Alonso then scored Chelsea’s third, taking advantage of some appalling Albion defending from a set-piece, before Hazard turned the screw with that fourth goal.
Chelsea, who won the Premier League title at this stadium last season, brutally exposed the brittle confidence in a side that has now won only two of their last 21 Premier League matches and collected just 12 points in the process. It is relegation form and Pulis appears powerless to arrest the slide. “You’re getting sacked in the morning‚“ chanted the Chelsea fans, prompting some from Albion to join in as the mood darkened in these parts.
When Eden Hazard scored his second and Chelsea’s fourth, it was the cue for many home supporters to leave their seats. There was still 27 minutes remaining but the outcome was beyond doubt and the afternoon had long turned into an exercise in damage limitation for Albion. Chelsea were 3-0 up prior to the interval, well on their way to a fourth successive league victory that could not have been more comfortable.
Hazard was the architect, cutting inside before unleashing a 22-yard shot that Ben Foster could only parry. Morata, ever alert, effortlessly turned in the rebound with his left boot from about eight yards out and the tone was set for a long afternoon for Albion. That Hazard had stayed down on the floor just before his part in that goal, eventually hobbling to his feet as play went on at the other end of the pitch, angered the home supporters, who booed the Belgian thereafter. Hazard, clearly riled by Gareth Barry’s earlier challenge on him, quickly took out some retribution of his own on Grzegorz Krychowiak and was promptly booked.
His next contribution was much more significant as he finished off a lovely Chelsea move with the goal that took the game away from Albion. Cesc Fàbregas slid a pass into the feet of Morata, whose exquisite first-time flick released Hazard through the middle of a porous Albion defence. As Foster dashed from his line, Hazard waltzed around the Albion keeper with the minimum of fuss and planted the ball into the empty net.
It was nearly four early in the second half but Foster blocked Hazard’s shot, with Fàbregas somewhat harshly booked by Jonathan Moss, the referee, for an alleged dive following a challenge from Gareth McAuley as the midfielder tried to pounce on the loose ball.
The first signs of unrest then started to surface at the opposite end of the stadium as some Albion fans turned on Pulis, but worse was still to come for the home team before the interval. Fàbregas delivered a free-kick from wide on the left and it is no exaggeration to say that Alonso had no Albion player within five yards of him as he arrived at the far post. The angle was against Alonso, but the Spaniard emphatically volleyed into the roof of the net and Chelsea, with only 38 minutes gone, were already out of sight.