Chelsea continued their winning streak by beating Bournemouth 3-0 at Stamford Bridge on Monday afternoon to open up a nine-point lead on the chasers while at the same time creating a club record of 12th successive league wins.
Two goals from Pedro and a penalty from Eden Hazard tightened the Blues grasp on the top of the table.
It was a high-tempo start from both sides, with neither creating much in the way of chances.
Antonio Conte opted to replace suspended Diego Costa upfront by rotating one of Willian, Eden Hazard and Pedro.
Cesc Fabregas came in for fellow suspended N’Golo Kante.
The pressure that was was building on the Bournemouth goal told on 24 minutes when Pedro picked up the ball on the edge of the visitors’ penalty area. One touch with his left boot was enough to garner some extra space and his next touch was a deft shot with clipped over the Artur Boruc who had no chance to get near the effort.
Jack Wilshere caused a few problems for the hosts. The Arsenal loanee forced Courtois to thwart his goal-bound close-range shot.
Wilshere was denied again on 30 minutes when his volley from a Nemanja Matic head out was blocked by the shin of David Luiz with Courtois well beaten.
Within four minutes of the restart, the Blues got a penalty when Hazard was hauled down by Simon Francis – he stepped up and coolly dispatched the spot kick himself, sending Boruc the wrong way in the process. It was Hazard’s ninth Premier League goal of the season – his 50th Premier League goal in his career.
Victor Moses had a clear chance to kill the game off, on 58 minutes, but his half-volley, from the edge of the Cherries penalty area, inched wide of Boruc’s right post.
With the last kick of the game, a counter-attack by the Blues saw Pedro race clear. His deflected low drive at the edge of the Cherries penalty area was defected by Francis and trickled into the back off the net to make it 3-0.
Chelsea will be looking to continue their impressive run of form as they face Stoke City next on December 31.