Chelsea …………………… 4
Southampton …………… 2
Who’d be a Spurs fan right now?
Mauricio Pochettino’s side began last week with dreams of a double, but having seen Costa return to form with two goals at Stamford Bridge in a match which saw Eden Hazard and Gary Cahill also score, any prospect of them overhauling the leaders now looks a pipe dream with little more than three weeks of the season remaining.
“It feels like a massive step, to be honest,” said Chelsea defender Gary Cahill.
“It’s the first time in a long time that we’ve played (before Tottenham) so we knew how important it was to get the win. We’re delighted today, we played well and deserved the win.”
Despite the result, Chelsea were not necessarily at their best against Southampton — and there’s an argument to say the league leaders haven’t been on top form for quite some time — but there were still a number of huge positives for Antonio Conte’s side as they took their points tally to 78 with five to play.
Number one, of course, is the result itself, a vital win going into a difficult away game at Everton on Sunday which would have looked pretty daunting if things had gone wrong here.
Secondly, two long-awaited goals for talisman Costa — a player who has struggled to hit the heights he reached earlier in the season — was much needed.
Thirdly there was an excellent performance in midfield from Cesc Fabregas after he was chosen ahead of Pedro, responding with two assists and a dominant display.
It had certainly been a big week for Chelsea in the run-up to this fixture; a high-octane FA Cup semi-final victory over Spurs at Wembley to earn a crack at Arsenal in the final, and a PFA Player of the Year award for midfielder N’Golo Kante leaving Conte’s side on a high and ready to finish the job in the Premier League too.
But Southampton, who had a full 10 days to prepare for the match in west London, are tricky opponents and showed, in spells, why they are close to being a threat to the top eight in future.