West Ham 0 Chelsea 1
Chelsea followed up their Capital One Cup victory with a hard-fought 1-0 win on their return to Barclays Premier League business at West Ham.
Jose Mourinho won a first trophy of his second spell as Blues boss with a 2-0 win over Tottenham on Sunday and Chelsea remain well placed to add a first Premier League title in five years.
The Hammers had one win in 17 against the Blues entering the contest but refused to be cowed by the leaders and deserved more, only for Eden Hazard’s first-half header to settle the contest, keeping Chelsea five points clear of second-placed Manchester City.
Mourinho spoke of short celebrations after the Wembley win and captain John Terry insisted they had been postponed until the end of the season, when he hoped there would be further cause to party.
Yet at times it appeared as though Chelsea’s defenders had a hangover as the pace of Enner Valencia, Diafra Sakho and Stewart Downing found holes.
Terry was booked for pulling down Valencia in the first half and cautious thereafter, with Chelsea indebted to a number of fine saves from the restored Thibaut Courtois – namely from Cheikhou Kouyate and Sakho – as the Hammers pressed forwards.
Ramires struck a post on the counter-attack and had a header well saved by Adrian, while Willian spurned a late chance for a second to settle the contest.
The Hammers now have one win in 11 league games to slip further down the standings – and Sam Allardyce appears to be running out of time to convince his bosses to extend his contract, which expires at the end of the season.
Chelsea’s players, meanwhile, have two days off before resuming preparations for next week’s Champions League last-16 second leg with Paris St Germain.