Alvaro Morata and Eden Hazard showed on Saturday that they are the key to Chelsea’s hopes of success, not only this season but in the years to come, as they ran riot against West Brom at the Hawthorns.
West Brom have been the type of opponent that Chelsea have struggled against this campaign, but they were brutally put to the sword. Long before half time, many fans had already left the stadium such was Chelsea’s dominance here.
Cesc Fabregas provided creativity from deep and ran the midfield but it was Morata and Hazard who were the undoubted stars of the show. They scored three of the four goals between them and combined brilliantly throughout.
Hazard needed a few weeks after breaking his ankle to get back to his best but he's now at his peak. A stunning dribble and shot was parried into Morata's path for the first goal. Morata repaid the favour with a beautiful backheel to Hazard, the Belgian taking it around Ben Foster to make it 2-0.
Marcos Alonso made it 3-0 unmarked from a free-kick and the under-fire Tony Pulis must have been hoping that a Chelsea substitute would throw one of their white shirts onto the pitch to signal mercy.
Morata has proved to be a wonderful signing since his £60 million move from Real Madrid. It is hard to believe that he went through a mini-goal drought after his hamstring injury when you look at his statistics. He has eight goals and four assists in his first 11 Premier League games for the club and at 25 years old, he's still yet to reach his peak.
Meanwhile, Hazard showed why Chelsea are desperate for him to agree a new contract with two goals and deserved an assist for his parried shot. A perfect first touch from a long Fabregas ball gave Hazard all the time in the world to beat Ben Foster to make it 4-0. Conte's Chelsea have now won all fifteen games that he scored in.
Chelsea have now moved to a 3-5-2 formation with Morata as the focal point and Hazard playing off him in a free role. The formation is only a slight variation on the 3-4-3 system that won the title last season.
This switch has been broadly successful as Chelsea racked up high profile wins against Atletico Madrid, Tottenham and Manchester United but it leaves Pedro and Willian on the bench. Hazard and Morata are in much better form than their squad rivals and they will be called upon in all of the biggest games. Morata and Hazard even left the field with bookings as they refused to show any complacency despite the scoreline.
Chelsea now have 25 points and move above Tottenham in the league. It took them 11 games to reach this points tally last season, one less fixture than this year. But the real difference is they are now competing with a sensational Manchester City side, who won again on Saturday to maintain their nine-point lead over Conte’s men.
However, as long as Hazard and Morata stay fit, it would be a surprise to not see Chelsea win something this season. Chelsea's attacking duo showed they can do some real damage to defenders, just as they did on Saturday on the ground where they secured the Premier League several months ago.