Pressure grows on Tony Pulis as Chelsea put four past West Brom
Premier League round-up: Callum Wilson inspires Bournemouth with hat-trick; three in a row for Burnley
Chelsea’s Eden Hazard scores his side’s second goal of the game during the Premier League match against West Brom at The Hawthorns. Photograph: Nick Potts/PA Wire
West Brom 0 Chelsea 4
Tony Pulis’s position at West Brom looks increasingly under threat after Chelsea inflicted the joint-heaviest defeat of his near three-year reign at The Hawthorns.
A brace from Eden Hazard and efforts from Alvaro Morata and Marcos Alonso saw the Blues coast to a 4-0 success, their fourth successive triumph in the Premier League, at the venue where they clinched the title six months ago.
Pulis had said on Friday he would understand if he was axed following a run of poor recent results and this defeat, which took them to 11 games without a victory, was witnessed by Chinese owner Guochuan Lai and a home crowd that delivered their verdict with a loud chorus of ‘Pulis out’ at the end.
Pulis had used his programme notes to staunchly defend his record, referencing a trio of mid-table finishes and the Baggies’ strong financial position.
For such a pivotal contest he restored Matt Phillips at right wing back and things may have been different had Salomon Rondon, another recalled to the starting XI, stayed onside from the Scot’s cross when he squeezed a header under Thibaut Courtois in the fifth minute.
He was marginally offside, though, and once Chelsea took control with the opener in the 17th minute they never looked back.
The first was instigated by Hazard, who moments earlier had received little sympathy from West Brom players and fans alike while laying injured. The Belgian rolled past Gareth Barry and rifled in a shot that Ben Foster could only push into Morata’s path, with the Spaniard able to do the rest, much to a pumped-up Hazard’s delight.
The roles were reversed for Chelsea’s second six minutes later, which came after Hazard had been booked for clattering into Grzegorz Krychowiak. Cesc Fabregas rolled a pass into Morata and the forward, with his back to goal, sent a fine first-time flick through for Hazard with his instep that he was able to reach, rounding Foster to double the visitors’ advantage.
Even allowing for Morata’s brilliance, there was far too much space for Hazard to utilise and the third goal was even sloppier from a West Brom perspective.
Pulis’s teams are renowned for their strength at set-pieces so he must have been fuming to see Alonso left all alone at the back post to convert Fabregas’s free-kick.
With their team conceding three times in 21 minutes, some of those Albion fans that had not rushed out early at half-time were chanting ‘Tony Pulis, get out of our club’.
His response at the start of the second half was to introduce the spirited Claudio Yacob for the ineffective Krychowiak and within minutes the new arrival was in the face of Fabregas and Morata.
He was irked by Fabregas being booked for diving when Gareth McAuley won the ball, although replays showed deeming it theatrical was harsh, with referee Jon Moss cautioning Rondon at the other end for the same crime.
Chelsea were in cruise control and could turn attention to the long midweek trip to Qarabag when Hazard added another in the 62nd minute.
Once more he was allowed a copious amount of space when Fabregas spotted him, and Hazard brought the ball down, moved inside Ahmed Hegazi and picked his spot to make it 4-0.
That was enough for some in The Hawthorrns as the stands started to empty to a smattering of ‘Pulis out’.
It was a cry that got far louder just before a full-time whistle that may be the last Pulis hears as West Brom boss.
Burnley 2 Swansea 0
Cork was handed his England debut against Germany last week and continued making memories by nodding home the first goal against his former club, underlining Clement’s increasingly curious decision to let him go in the summer.
Ashley Barnes followed up with a rocket of a strike that caught everyone by surprise, handing the upwardly mobile Clarets their third win in a row and plunging Swansea into the kind of relegation trough that leaves managers looking nervously over their shoulder.
Sean Dyche, meanwhile, has now overseen his club’s first hat-trick of top-flight wins since 1975 and can expect links with the vacant Everton job to linger.
Bournemouth 4 Huddersfield 0
Hat-trick hero Callum Wilson scored his first Premier League goals since his injury nightmare as 10-man Bournemouth inflicted more away-day misery on Huddersfield.
The striker, who was sidelined for nine months after suffering a second serious knee ligament problem in January, set the Cherries on course to a 4-0 success with a first-half double before claiming his third late on after Harry Arter had added another.
Huddersfield, who have now failed to score on the road in five league games, were given some hope when Cherries captain Simon Francis was sent off just before half-time with the score at 2-0 but the hosts emphatically registered a third win in four league games.
Crystal Palace 2 Everton 2
Basement side Crystal Palace were left to rue missed opportunities as they were held to a 2-2 draw by Everton in a pulsating encounter at Selhurst Park.
Palace were on the scoresheet inside the first minute with James McArthur’s close range finish, but their celebrations were cut short as the visitors responded almost immediately from a Leighton Baines penalty, resulting from a Scott Dann foul on striker Oumar Niasse.
The hosts recovered well to dominate the possession and deservedly took the lead again with a goal from winger Wilfried Zaha, before another defensive error from Dann allowed Niasse to equalise for Everton on the stroke of half-time.
Late substitute Christian Benteke, who returned for Palace after recovering from a knee injury, missed two clear-cut chances to score a winner as they were forced to settle for a draw.