West Ham stunned Chelsea in the Premier League on Wednesday night after coming from a goal down to secure a stunning 3-2 win that significantly boosts their survival hopes.
A first 35 minutes passed by without much incident until Tomas Soucek bundled home from a scrappy corner. Sadly for the home side, VAR cut their celebrations short after a lengthy check harshly ruled Antonio to have been offside despite not obviously interfering with play.
Salt was rubbed into the wound just moments later, with Willian converting from the penalty spot after Christian Pulisic was clumsily felled in the box by Issa Diop. Game over? Not quite, as Soucek did it again (allowed this time) by heading home from a corner in first half stoppage time.
Bouyed by the equaliser, the Irons came out of the blocks with purpose after the break and edged in front. Antonio claimed for a penalty, got nothing, stood up and then poked home after fine work down the wing from Jarrod Bowen.
But dead ball specialist Willian couldn’t be stopped with 20 minutes to go, bending in a fine free-kick in off the post to level matters. But this was no normal game, far from it. After some lazy Chelsea tracking back, the Hammers broke from defence through Antonio, who fed Andriy Yarmolenko to fire home and send the home bench ballistic.
Key Talking Point
Staying compact, being hard to beat and scraping draws against the big boys is the clear POA set in place by David Moyes for the Hammers’ final Premier League run in. However, at times, you need to examine other results and actually go for it.
Barring a few first half corners, that’s what they did. Antonio was all on his lonesome up front and the service was hard to come by. Then they scored, though. And then they ran. Like, actual running around. Believe it or not, it worked!
West Ham genuinely looked dangerous for decent spells in the game. They can’t go toe-to-toe with top six sides for 90 minutes, sure, but for period of matches they need to show slightly more endeavour if they to climb up the table whatever way possible. This win is HUGE in terms of their survival hopes, and maybe, just maybe, Moyes may chance his tack for the remainder.
Starting XI: Fabianski (7); Fredericks (7), Diop (5), Ogbonna (6), Cresswell (6); Rice (7*), Soucek (7), Bowen (7), Lanzini (5), Fornals (5); Antonio (7).
Substitutes: Wilshere (5) Yarmolenko (7), Balbuena (N/A).
The holding midfielder may have, often justifiably, come under criticism this season, but who hasn’t? West Ham have been woeful and individual performances, let alone team displays, have been nowhere near up to scratch.
Yet, with the addition of a lockdown beard and minus one questionable bowl haircut, Declan Rice is taking on responsibility in the Hammers’ quest for top flight security.
He’s getting around the pitch better, winning back possession and driving his team forward. Up for the fight? Sure looks it.
Key Talking Point
It’s been the topic of debate for some time under Frank Lampard, no matter how fluid they are in attack, their defensive woes remain. So, naturally, they go out and spend £83m on two forwards, right? RIGHT?
There is no doubting that the Lampard revolution is in full swing. He’s made Chelsea considerably more exciting to watch going forward, brought youth in to freshen things up and led them further up the table than the vast majority expected in his debut top flight managerial role.
But if that is to be sustained, then defensively there needs to be further recruitment – or at least distinct improvements. That isn’t just the defenders, but in goal too. Kepa Arrizabalaga continues to look completely hopeless, as seen on numerous occasions at the London Stadium, while at set pieces the Blues looked disorganised and weak.
Significant points to Iron out, for sure.
Starting XI: Kepa (4); Azpilicueta (5), Christensen (5), Rudiger (5), Alonso (4); Barkley (5), Kante (6), Kovacic (6); Willian (8), Abraham (5), Pulisic (8*)
Substitutes: Mount (6), Giroud (5), Loftus-Cheek (6).
Chelsea’s live wire throughout, the American is finally beginning to show his true colours (stars and stripes included) with some inventive, direct and downright exciting displays.
Players are coming in, but knocking this 21-year-old out of the side when he’s playing the way he is would be wholly unjust.
He’s clearly taken note of the signings and upped his game, and good on him, he looks top drawer.
It’s a crucial trip up north to Newcastle next for West Ham in the Premier League, while Chelsea are back on home soil with the visit of Watford