Chelsea 2-0 Hull City: As it happened
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Unfortunately, that is all we have time for this evening. Thank you all for following my coverage of this game and I hope to see you all again soon. Have a good week. 

MAN OF THE MATCH I feel inclined to side with Martin Tyler and Co. on naming Diego Costa the main man today. After the week he's had, along with the supporters, it would have really put their minds at rest that he just did his job, and so well, too. Whatever happens to Costa at the end of the season (or, in January), he will have always have a place in Chelsea fans' hearts.

Hull City sit 19th, level on points with Crystal Palace, one point off bottom and two from safety. They weren't terrible today, quite the opposite, but quality and confidence showed between the two sides and there was nothing they, or anybody, could do to stop Chelsea at the moment. 

In the least surprising result of the season so far, Chelsea defeat Hull and move eight points clear at the top of the Premier League table, winning 14 of their last 15 fixtures. Diego Costa is settled once again, scoring his 52nd Chelsea goal in 100 appearances. All is good at Stamford Bridge again.

FULL TIME: Chelsea 2-0 Hull City

90+3' - As we head towards the 13th minute of collective stoppage time this evening, the result looks a formality for Chelsea now. Sky Sports' commentary team name Diego Costa as their man of the match.


87' - Oumar Niasse, who is on for Curtis Davies, really  comes close with a volley at Courtois from six yards out but Chelsea man again delivers when needed. 

83' - Costa so close to a second! Fabregas breaks away during a counter-attack and slides through his compatriot but Costa is denied by a brilliant low Jakupovic save, before he's replaced, to a standing ovation, by Michy Batshuayi. 

81' - Too easy. Cesc Fabregas sends in a dinked free-kick to the far post, where Gary Cahill can easily rise highest and poke home a header. It was coming, and it's game over.

GOAL! CHELSEA 2-0 Hull City (Cahill, 81)

74' - Abel Hernandez, the man touted as a crucial asset for Hull in the build-up to this game, is replaced, after a quiet afternoon, by Adama Diomande.

70' - Creative midfielders Eden Hazard and Pedro make way for Cesc Fabregas and Willian - who scored the last time these two sides met.

64' - Courtois made to sweat again, Michael Dawson being the man behind the shot with a close-range volley going just wide of the near post.

55' - A nice moment for some off the field respect, where Carl O'Brien, former Chelsea groundsman who died this week, is acknowledged by the Stamford Bridge faithful with a touching minute's applause.

51' - David Meyler with the first real chance of the second half, he tests Courtois with a very powerful strike from distance but the Belgian, who's had little to do so far, does well to keep it out. At the other end, Costa wins a corner.


It's been a very comfortable, albeit slightly tense, first half in West London as the home side tried determinedly to find an opening goal against a resilient, organised Hull defence and eventually there was a breakthrough, but it took 50 minutes.


45+6' - Seriously. Who else? Diego Costa stands firm in the box to plant Victor Moses' low cross into the corner, celebrating with a "Who's laughing now?" to the Shed supporters.

GOAL! CHELSEA 1-0 Hull City (Costa, 45+6') 

45+5' - N'Golo Kante is so nearly the man to break the deadlock, narrowing missing Marcos Alonso's low cross to the near post.

45' - The Arsenal game saw two penalties scored in seven minutes of injury time earlier, but here we have nine.

42' - Out of nowhere, defender Harry Maguire unleashes a low fizzer at Courtois which the Belgian does well to parry and Hull win the corner.

40' - The same man has the ball in the nets minute later but it's about 10 seconds after the linesman raised his offside flag. Still greeting with cheers for the Spaniard. They love him here.

35' - Diego Costa fails to control a shot and it runs out for a goal kick but he's immediately coaxed with a corresponding chant of "DIeeeego!" from the Shed End.

30' - Last week's brace scorer almost has the first one here, with Marcos Alonso's deflected shot under pressure catching Jakupovic off-guard and the Bosnian stopper needs his fingertips to save it. Pedro then has appeals for a penalty waved away as he goes down following an alleged push in the back. It was a bit soft, if I'm honest. But it's all Chelsea here!

24' - We're back underway, our thoughts go out to Mason. His side have started well, though, winning a couple of corners.

19' - Cahill is serenaded by Chelsea supporters as he walks onto the side of the pitch. It looks as though he'll eventually be able to return to the action - unlike Hull's Ryan Mason, who is stretchered off, for David Meyler. Things are looking serious for the lad.

13' - A pause in play while Gary Cahill and Ryan Mason lay holding their heads following a collision in the Hull penalty area. Both medical teams have been called on.

8' - Tom Huddlestone tries a trademark long-range strike but drags it just wide of Thibaut Courtois' far post.

3' - A fast-paced start from the Blues so far, with Hull struggling to hold onto the ball due to Chelsea's high pressing.


Meanwhile in the Premier League, Arsenal have kept up some of the pressure on today's hosts with a dramatic late win over Burnley, Alexis Sanchez scoring the 97th-minute penalty for 10-man Arsenal, just minutes after Andre Gray looked to have salvaged a point from the spot at the other end. In other news, Southampton condemned Leicester to their second consecutive 3-0 defeat.

With half an hour to kick-off, one would imagine that something of an atmosphere is beginning to nicely build around Stamford Bridge now in anticipation of a game that could send Chelsea soaring away at the top of the Premier League. Will Hull have what it takes to bring them down to Earth with the rest of the league?

For Hull, this team looks a bit of a gamble. Playing with three at the back, plus debutant Elabdellaoui on left (he's a right-back) is risky business in arguably their hardest fixture of the season. Evandro also makes his first appearance while fellow acquisition Oumar Niasse makes the bench.

No surprises in the Chelsea line-up, except the inclusion of Nathan Ake on the bench for the first time since his recalling from Bournemouth. He is joined by the likes of John Terry, Cesc Fabregas and Willian.

HULL BENCH: Marshall, Tymon, Meyler, Maloney, Bowen, Diomande, Niasse.

HULL TEAM TO PLAY CHELSEA: Jakupovic; Davies, Dawson, Maguire; Roberton, Clucas, Mason, Huddlestone, Elabdellaoui?; Hernandez, Evandro.

CHELSEA BENCH: Begovic, Ake, Zouma, Chalobah, Fabregas, Willian, Batshuayi.

CHELSEA TEAM TO PLAY HULL: Courtois; Azpilicueta, Luiz, Cahill (C); Moses, Kante, Matic, Alonso; Pedro, Costa, Hazard.

Antonio Conte has been speaking of ex-Barcelona winger Pedro this week; a player who has really hit form recently - so much so that the boss believes that he is as good now as he ever was for the Catalan giants, where he won everything there is to win for both club and country.

"He’s playing in a fantastic way, not only scoring goals but he is also playing good football, with and without the ball," Conte said. "He’s always in the right position to press to win the ball and also to score goals. We are seeing the best moments of Pedro. This is the Pedro who played this type of football when he was at Barcelona."

While the return of David Meyler will serve as slight encouragement for Hull fans, their real concern is over the fitness of in-form captain Robert Snodgrass. The ex-Norwich and Leeds midfielder has a reported muscle problem and is 50/50 over whether he'll start. It's hard to find any other way of hurting Chelsea other than the club's main man in midfield so his presence cannot be overstated and would be sorely missed. Respective new signings Omar Elabdellaoui?, Oumar Niasse and Evandro could both make their debuts.

The big team news for Antonio Conte's side is, of course, the relief that top scorer and fiery talisman Diego Costa is available for selection once again. He's been at the centre of uncertainty regarding his place at the club following a couple of reportedly high-profile fallouts with several members of the club staff. He will likely start the game with Pedro and Eden Hazard either side of him. John Terry is back from the suspension picked up in the 4-1 win over Peterborough and will be ready to feature today, should the manager need him.

One of the fixtures that sticks out in recent years was Chelsea's 3-2 win at the KCOM towards the end of the 2014/15 season. Jose Mourinho's title favourites arrived up North needing a win and immediately went two up through Eden Hazard and Diego Costa respectively. Hull bounced back, however, and goals from Abel Hernandez (look away now, Thibaut Courtois) and Ahmed Elmohamady ensured a nervy finale but it was French striker Loic Remy who dealt the Tigers their final blow with a winner 15 minutes from time.

Chelsea's record against Hull down the years is predictably good, with the Blues losing only once since 1925! Of 45 fixtures between the two sides, Chelsea boast 31 wins while Hull have only mustered a measly four.

Things have looked up since then, though, with the appointment of the highly commended Marco Silva. The club won their third-round FA Cup tie, before an encouraging home win over Bournemouth lifted the Tigers' spirits, somewhat. 

Chelsea's opponents today, Hull City, haven't had quite so much to celebrate up to now. The sacking of Mike Phelan in January left the club in the lurch before they went to Old Trafford and Manchester United in the first leg of the Capital One Cup semi-finals, leaving two goals down.

After a record-equalling end to 2016, Antonio Conte's men have started the new year in mixed fashion, with defeat to Tottenham at White Hart Lane and a 3-0 slaying of champions Leicester last weekend. 14 wins out of their last 15 no laughing matter for opposition fans.

There are no words needed to explain what this game means to Chelsea supporters. A weekend of slip-ups for their title rivals puts the Blues in a mouth-watering position. The task is simple; beat Hull and go nine clear.

Good afternoon, everyone. My name is Cian Woulfe and I have the pleasure to be bringing you the live coverage of Chelsea - Hull City in the Premier League. Kick-off is at 4:30PM (GMT), so stay tuned until then for as it happens team news and a live pre-match build-up.