Defending champions Chelsea drew level on points with second-placed Manchester United with comfortable 3-1 win over Premier League newcomers Huddersfield Town at the John Smith’s Stadium.
After getting stunned by derby rivals West Ham United on the weekend, the Blues were under pressure to get back to winning ways and thanks to first-half goals from Tiemoue Bakayoko and Willian, they were 2-0 up at half-time.
Bakayoko scored an excellent opener, with Chelsea stealing the ball deep in the Terriers’ half before the Frenchman beat Jonas Lossl with a delicate chip in the 23rd minute and Willian would double their lead two minutes prior to the interval with a header after Marcos Alonso found him in the box with a pin-point delivery.
Lossl was by far the busier keeper of the two, with Thibaut Courtois a virtual spectator for the most part and Chelsea’s dominance continued in the second period as well.
Despite club-record striker Alvaro Morata missing out due to injury and Chelsea playing without a recognised centre-forward, the Blues weren’t lacking incisiveness in front of goal and barely five minutes had passed before Pedro curled one into the top-corner after a lay-off from Willian.
Dean Whitehead had been brought on at the interval by David Wagner but the introduction did not have the desired effect as the Blues were in total command and Conte took off Eden Hazard and N’Golo Kante with one eye on their weekend clash with Southampton.
Youngster Ethan Ampadu got a turnout as well, with 10 minutes left in the tie, but Chelsea perhaps switched off in the closing stages and their perfect evening was spoiled when Laurent Depoitre headed in a consolation goal for the hosts in the second minute of injury-time.
However, despite the late goal and the fact that the Blues failed to keep a clean-sheet for the fourth game in a row, the defending champions will take plenty from their mid-week win, especially at a venue the likes of Manchester United and City have had a tough time at.
The Blues are level with the Red Devils, as they both have 35 points but United have a superior goal difference and could restore their three-point advantage if they beat Bournemouth at home on Wednesday.
Huddersfield remain in 12th place, but depending on how results go on Wednesday, could drop to 14th and their recent run of results will worry David Wagner for the Terriers have been struggling in recent weeks.