No Costa, no problem for rampant Chelsea; Kane hat-trick

Chelsea cruised to a comfortable 3-0 victory at struggling Premier League champions Leicester City to stretch their lead at the top of the table to seven points.

The Blues were without Diego Costa amid reports of a row with Antonio Conte and a lucrative transfer offer from the Chinese Super League, although Conte later said the striker had a back injury.

His absence proved no hindrance to Chelsea, who produced a dominant performance and took the lead after only six minutes. The goal came when defender Marcos Alonso found himself unattended inside the area and fired a low shot into the corner after Eden Hazard had slid the ball across to him.

Claudio Ranieri’s Foxes tried to conjure a response, with Ben Chilwell heading a difficult chance wide after Marc Albrighton had produced an excellent cross.

But the Londoners were controlling the bulk of the game, despite a moment of panic in their backline after a dangerous low Jamie Vardy cross, and doubled their advantage five minutes into the second half as Alonso struck again.

A free-kick was cleared to the edge of the Leicester box where Alonso took a touch to control and fire in a low shot that cannoned off Wes Morgan and eluded Kasper Schmeichel.

And the visitors put the icing on the cake when ex-Leicester man N’Golo Kante found Pedro and he flicked the ball to Willian, who turned it back across for Pedro to head home a high-quality goal.

Arsenal moved up to third as a 4-0 win at Swansea City saw them move ahead of Liverpool on goal difference.

They took the lead after 38 minutes as Sanchez turned provider when his cross was headed down by Mesut Ozil and Olivier Giroud converted for his fifth goal in five games.

Giroud was replaced by Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain after taking a knock to the foot, but Arsenal soon scored the second goal when an Alex Iwobi cross looped in off the unfortunate Jack Cork.

With 68 minutes gone, any lingering doubts about the result were removed when another Iwobi cross was deflected in by a Swansea player, this time Naughton.

And with a little over a quarter of an hour still to play, Oxlade-Chamberlain crossed and the ball deflected off Wayne Routledge for Sanchez to steer home number four as Arsenal edged ahead of Liverpool prior to their match against Manchester United on Sunday.

Harry Kane hit a hat trick as Tottenham Hotspur brushed aside the challenge of West Bromwich Albion to win 4-0 and move up to second.

Spurs were 2-0 up after a dominant first half in which they comprehensively outplayed the Baggies at White Hart Lane, with Kane and Christian Eriksen’s twice-deflected shot giving them a cushion.

Spurs lost defender Jan Vertonghen when he appeared to twist an ankle after the break, but they put the game beyond doubt when Kyle Walker set Kane up for the third.

The England man then guided Dele Alli’s superb pass home to complete his treble as Spurs moved up to second, a point clear of Liverpool.

Stoke City eased to a 3-1 victory over Sunderland at the Stadium of Light as the hosts’ winless run extended to four games.

Sunderland have not left the relegation zone since August, and their hopes of moving clear on Saturday were soon extinguished.

Stoke went ahead on 15 minutes when Marko Arnautovic fired home after his first effort was saved, and the Austrian completed his brace soon afterwards when he rounded off an excellent team move.

The in-form Peter Crouch added a third on 34 minutes when he headed home a Charlie Adam cross and, although Jermain Defoe hit back for the hosts, Sunderland could not threaten a comeback.

Andy Carroll scored a stunning bicycle kick as West Ham United beat Sam Allardyce’s Crystal Palace 3-0.

West Ham were missing Dimitri Payet after the France international declared his intention to leave the club and they managed only one shot on target in the first half in the absence of their playmaker.

They made the breakthrough on 68 minutes when Michail Antonio squared for Sofiane Feghouli to fire in. Antonio then set up Carroll’s spectacular effort before Manuel Lanzini completed the scoring.

The result means Allardyce has taken just one point from his four league games in charge, with Palace now outside the relegation zone on goal difference alone.

Hull City recorded their first Premier League win since Nov. 6 as they came from behind to record a 3-1 home victory over Bournemouth.

Hull fell behind inside three minutes in Marco Silva’s first league game in charge as Harry Maguire fouled Ryan Fraser inside the area and Junior Stanislas stepped up to convert the resulting spot kick.

However, the Tigers hit back on 32 minutes, with Abel Hernandez netting his first league goal since August as he headed home Andrew Robertson’s cross, and the Uruguayan give them the lead on 50 minutes with a stunning effort.

After 63 minutes, Tom Huddlestone’s shot deflected in off Tyrone Mings to put Hull 3-1 up.

Joey Barton came off the bench to score the only goal just six minutes into his Burnley return as Southampton suffered a 1-0 defeat at Turf Moor.

Ben Mee had Burnley’s best chance before the break while Nathan Redmond and Dusan Tadic went close in quick succession for the visitors.

Barton, who left Burnley last summer but returned on a free transfer this month after a brief spell at Rangers, came off the bench on 73 minutes and fired in a 25-yard free kick to secure the win.

Watford and Middlesbrough played out a goalless draw at Vicarage Road.

There was little action in the first half, with the two sides registering just three shots between them — the lowest total in the Premier League so far this season.

In the second half, the Watford fans honoured their former manager Graham Taylor on 72 minutes after his death at the age of 72 this week.

Tom Cleverley, who joined on loan from Everton this week, nearly marked his Watford debut with a goal on 81 minutes but his effort struck the woodwork.

ESPN FC

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