IT’S as if Maurizio Sarri was playing with us all along.
Ruben Loftus-Cheek and Callum Hudson-Odoi starred as Chelsea strolled past Brighton 3-0 at Stamford Bridge.
Olivier Giroud, Eden Hazard and the excellent Loftus-Cheek were on target as Sarris men go above Manchester United into fifth and stay in the mix for a Champions League place.
Giroud calmed the Stamford Bridge nerves with his first goal of 2019.
The Frenchman justified getting the nod ahead of the hapless Gonzalo Higuaín starting for just the second time in 18 Prem games with a neat finish after some excellent wide play from Hudson-Odoi.
The England international skipped past Anthony Knockeart and his low cross was met by Giroud’s clever near post run to rattle the roof of the net.
Hudson-Odoi, finally starting his first league game of the season in April was a constant threat the Seagull’s despite the visitors dropping deep and not allowing any space in behind them.
But when Chris Hughton’s side ventured forward on the rare occasion, they caused Chelsea problems and should have taken the lead.
Yves Bissouma danced past Cesar Azpilicueta on 30 minutes and his pull back was missed by Florin Andone who took it off Shane Duffy’s toe who had an easy tap in.
Hughton’s suffered a blow as Solly March limped off with a muscle injury before the break and is now a major doubt for Saturdays’ FA Cup semi-final.
Hudson-Odoi should have opened his top-flight account after the break when he climbed highest on the back post to head Jorginho pinpoint cross, but his header was straight at Matt Rayan.
Hazard made it safe on the hour when he combined with Jorginho and Loftus-Cheek.
The Belgian dropped a shoulder inside Lewis Dunk and curled a beauty past Ryan for his 17th goal of the campaign.
Anything Hazard can do, Loftus-Cheek can do better and he proved it minutes later.
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Hazard the provider this time and the England star produced a carbon copy of his team-mates finish but from much further out for his second league strike in four days.
Loftus-Cheek offers so much more in attacking sense that Mateo Kovacic while the Stamford Bridge faithful are crying out for Hudson-Odoi to feature to convince him his future is in London, not Bavaria.
Chelsea’s double-barrel boys will have tougher nights but Sarri must take his head out of his notebook to see what is right in front of him and start putting a bit more trust in the academy graduates.