Eden Hazard and Alvaro Morata ran riot as Chelsea outclassed West Bromwich Albion 4-0 at the Hawthorns to turn up the heat on Tony Pulis.
As Antonio Conte celebrated his 50th Premier League match in style, the contrast to his opposite number in the dugout could not have been greater, as Pulis’ side never came close to avoiding a fourth consecutive defeat.
Conte kept David Luiz to the bench on his return to the squad, but the visitors hardly needed defensive reinforcement in cruising to their 10th win in 12 league away games.
On the ground where they sealed last season’s title, Chelsea raced to a two-goal lead inside 23 minutes as Morata and Hazard exchanged assists for their quickfire goals.
It was all too easy for Marcos Alonso as he added a third from Cesc Fabregas’ set-piece in the 38th minute, and the champions remained in cruise control until Hazard completed his brace with a well-taken second just beyond the hour.
The victory sees Conte’s men at least momentarily move into second, but the pressure on Pulis will only intensify with the Baggies now winless in all competitions since August.
Contrary to what was ahead, West Brom began with purpose and looked to have taken a fifth-minute lead through Salomon Rondon, but his header was correctly ruled out for offside.
Chelsea quickly overcame their early wobble and went close through Tiemoue Bakayoko, before Morata made the breakthrough in the 17th minute.
Ben Foster could only parry Hazard’s thumping left-footed effort as far as the Spain international, who tucked away the rebound for his eighth of the campaign.
It was that pair who combined again just six minutes later. Morata this time freed Hazard with a classy flick-on, and clean through on goal the Belgium star made no mistake after rounding Foster.
And the contest was all but over by half-time as Alonso ghosted unmarked to the far post and volleyed in Fabregas’ floated free kick, ensuring the home side left the pitch to a chorus of boos.
An isolated Rondon continued to battle hard after the restart and was denied a promising opening by Gary Cahill’s well-timed challenge, while Jake Livermore’s air-swing from the subsequent corner almost cost his side on the counter-attack.
Pulis had replaced Grzegorz Krychowiak with Claudio Yacob at the break, but the midfield switch did little to patch up the holes at the back, Morata finding space to test Foster once more.
Instead, it was Hazard who was first to a brace when he silkily brought down Fabregas’ ball over the top, steadied and fired through the retreating defenders.
A mix-up in Chelsea’s defence allowed substitute James McClean to stride through with a chance for a consolation, but the Republic of Ireland winger dragged his shot wide to sum up a miserable afternoon for the hosts.
In other Premier League results:
Crystal Palace missed the chance to pick up three precious points as the Premier League’s bottom club were twice pegged back by Everton in an entertaining 2-2 draw at Selhurst Park.
Callum Wilson netted a superb hat-trick to help 10-man Bournemouth move clear of the Premier League relegation zone with a convincing 4-0 win over Huddersfield Town.
Jack Cork inspired Burnley to a 2-0 win against former side Swansea City on Saturday, earning his new employers a third straight top-flight victory for the first time in the Premier League era.
Liverpool defeated Southampton 3-0 in the Premier League to seize on Tottenham’s north London derby defeat, as Mohamed Salah broke a Robbie Fowler record and Philippe Coutinho shone on his return to the starting XI.
Pep Guardiola’s rampant Manchester City made it 10 Premier League wins in a row with a typically dominant 2-0 victory over Leicester City.