Hope everyone is safe and well.
Continuing my series of past games looks at the draw between West Ham United and Chelsea at the London Stadium that halted the Blues excellent start to the season, but the point only managed to keep the Hammers just above the relegation zone after just 6 games.
Hammers manager Manuel Pellegrini said the Hammers had successfully stopped Eden Hazard from having any significant influence on the game and that denied the Blues a 100% record since the start of the season.
Great heart can be taken from the Hammers performance that silenced Hazard and who were well marshalled by the young Declan Rice, who spent 6 years at Chelsea before moving to West Ham. Rice’s display was once again a major plus, the 19-year-old showing composure in a defensive midfield role as he adds another string to his bow after showing his talent as a central defender.
But the result could have been very different if Andriy Yarmolenko had headed Robert Snodgrass’ pass into the net 13 minutes from time. With rare, but better chances that the Blues, the Hammers huffed an puffed to get a goal and it seemed that Snodgrass’ cross over from the left would provide Yarmolenko the perfect opportunity to seal the points, having bound free beyond a distracted Marcos Alonso at the back post. Clear disbelief filled the stadium as the headed ball sailed wide of the post.
The 28-year-old Ukrainian showed his class with two goals on his full debut in the 3-1 win at Everton, and almost delivered a trademark finish on Sunday when he cut inside and shot narrowly over with his left foot, his stock in trade. But despite another promising performance, it was not to be his day.
Pellegrini said after his sides battling performance “We played well tactically because we allowed them to have the ball where we wanted, and we defended well. They played most of the game on their right side, so they didn’t create too many chances.”
You could argue that a draw was a fair result for a game that rarely came to life, although Lukasz Fabianski made two excellent saves to deny both substitutes Alvaro Morata and Ross Barkley, that at least put a stop on previous series of home defeats by the Hammers. A draw would have been celebrated but for the excellent chances West Ham did create, but an improved performance with a first clean sheet of the season was enough to trigger warm applause at the end the game from the crowd.
Enjoy the photos from the match.