Sunday 8th April, Stamford Bridge – Chelsea played West Ham United in their second consecutive derby this month, for Sunday’s late Premier League kick-off.
Chelsea were coming off an immensely disappointing defeat to Tottenham Hotspur in their previous game. In fact, they had not won a single game against top six opposition in 2018. They might have scraped a win over Arsenal at the beginning of the year, but for a late equaliser from Hector Bellerin.
The league table suggested that Chelsea had the advantage for this game: they were at home and fighting for a fifth place finish, and their visitors were struggling mightily to stay out of the relegation places.
Head-to-head though, West Ham had won three and drawn one of their last six games against Chelsea. David Moyes’ team were slowly becoming a bogey side for their West London neighbours.
West Ham had lost three of their last five league games to Liverpool (4-1), Swansea (4-1) and Burnley away (3-0), but they had beaten Watford (2-0) back in February, and then Southampton (3-0) in their most recent game.
Chelsea had exactly the same form over their last five – they had a couple of wins against West Bromwich Albion (3-0) and Crystal Palace (2-1), but they’d lost to Manchester City (1-0), Manchester United (2-1) and Tottenham (3-1).
Thibaut Courtois recovered from a hamstring injury to start ahead of Willy Caballero in goal, and Gary Cahill came in for Andreas Christensen in defence. They were the only changes to the eleven that started Chelsea’s previous game.
Michail Antonio was sidelined by a hamstring injury. Otherwise David Moyes kept faith with the players that started in the win against Southampton.
Courtois 6.5, Moses 6.5 (Pedro 5.5), Azpilicueta 8, Cahill 7, Rudiger 6, Alonso 6, Kante 7.5, Fabregas 6.5, Willian 7.5, Hazard 8, Morata 7.5 (Giroud 5.5)
Subs Eduardo, Emerson, Cahill, Drinkwater, Bakayoko, Hudson-Odoi, Giroud
Hart 7.5, Masuaku 7, Cresswell 6.5 (Evra 6), Ogbonna 7, Rice 7, Zabaleta 6.5, Noble 7.5, Kouyate 6.5, Joao Mario 7 (Cullen 6), Fernandes 6 (Hernandez 8), Arnautovic 8.5
Subs Adrian, Pask, Evra, Cullen, Diangana, Hugill, Chicharito
Coping With The Pressure
This was definitely a derby worthy of the name: the game was played at breakneck pace as West Ham pressed Chelsea all the way to their box, trying to force a collapse the same way Tottenham did in the second half of Chelsea’s previous game.
In the first meeting between these sides this season, West Ham completely out-worked their neighbours, on their way to a brilliant 1-0 home win. This game though, Chelsea were were free of Champions League distractions, and it made a little difference to the outcome today.
Alvaro Morata had two goals correctly ruled out for offside. If he had controlled his runs a little better he might have given Chelsea an easy win today.
Arthur Masuaku created a great chance for Marko Arnautovic early in the game, with a deep cross from midfield. The Austrian striker controlled the ball and would probably have scored but for a last ditch block from Gary Cahill.
Alvaro Morata knocked the ball down for Eden Hazard in West Ham’s final third, and the Belgian wizard dribbled right before firing towards the opposite corner, but his shot went just wide.
Cahill played a quick pass from the halfway line up to Morata, who passed it back again for Hazard. This time Hazard went left before feeding a through ball to the penalty spot. Morata broke through to nutmeg Joe Hart, but the goal was disallowed – he was marginally offside.
Hazard dribbled past Cheikhou Kouyate to exchange passes with Cesc Fabregas in the penalty area, then put a cross into the six yard box. Morata attempted a back-heel finish from close range, but the ball skidded across goal and out of play.
Hazard, Morata and Willian combined again shortly afterward. This time Hazard put Willian through on goal, one on one with Hart. It really should have been an easy finish but Willian’s shot was too close to the keeper, who parried it out of play.
Hazard took the resulting corner short, before Victor Moses played a long cross into the box. Morata headed the ball down for Cesar Azpilicueta, who took control under pressure from Arnautovic, and somehow managed to scramble it in from close range for 1-0.
Azpilicueta kissed his badge before pointing upwards, dedicating his goal to the memory of ex-Chelsea captain, assistant coach and caretaker manager Ray Wilkins, who unfortunately passed away earlier this week, at the age of 61.
Nine In Fourteen
Chelsea continued to apply pressure in the second half, but despite dominating possession and chances, could not score a second.
Javier Hernandez came on for Edmilson Fernandes on 70 minutes. Chicarito was the difference against Chelsea in so many games for Manchester United, and he was the key man again for West Ham today.
Just three minutes after he came on, Mark Noble played a deep cross in from the right side of midfield. Cahill headed the ball away, but Arnautovic took possession at the byline and hooked a cut-back to Hernandez, who was hovering unmarked on the edge of the box. Hernandez made no mistake, smashing the ball right of Courtois for the equalizer 1-1. It was his ninth goal in fourteen games against Chelsea.
Like so many other games this season, Chelsea poured forward trying to get a goal back. And like so many other games this season, they did not have the finishers to take advantage of their chances, and the game ended a deserved 1-1 for both sides.
With this draw, West Ham move up to fourteenth place, six points clear of Southampton in the relegation zone. Chelsea remain fifth, but they are now only three points ahead of Arsenal, who showed a lot of character to take all three points against Southampton in Sunday’s earlier game.
Final Score Chelsea 1-1 West Ham United
Thumbnail image courtesy of: The Guardian
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