If we thought the squad would bounce back from their poor performance against Leicester we were mistaken as we followed that up with an abysmal defensive performance against West Ham. Lampard selected what looked like a strong lineup with Kepa in goal followed by Azpilicueta and Alonso as the full backs. Christensen, and Rudiger continued as centre backs with Zouma dropping to the bench. Kante started in the CDM role with Kovacic, and Barkley in front of him. Pulisic was passed fit and started on the wings along with Willian while Tammy started up front. Moyes stuck Antonio up front with the likes Lanzini, Bowen and Fornals behind him in what was a purely counter attacking set up.
Chelsea started better than we did against Leicester as we had more of the ball but that was a by product of West Ham playing so defensive with their only tactic being to kick the ball out to Antonio who would try to bring it down. Still West Ham were able to keep Chelsea at bay and it was West Ham who drew first blood as they had the ball in the back of the net via a corner in towards the end of the half. VAR though ruled it out as Antonio was found to be blocking Kepa’s view in an offside position. God seemed to have been on Chelsea’s side as Pulisic went down the other end and drew a penalty after some quick feet. Willian stepped up and made it 0-1 to Chelsea in the 42nd minute. It turns out though that Rudiger likes fair play and he rather comically kicked the ball out for a corner when he could have hit it anywhere else in the final moments of the 1st half. Soucek made it sure it counted this time as his header ended up in the back of the net.
The break would have been the perfect time for our defenders to reboot and go again in the 2nd but we came out with the same problems for the 2nd half. Antonio made it 2-1 in the 51st minute as Rudiger again made a really poor clearance which allowed West Ham to play in and the cross was found by Antonio who tapped the ball in. Mount was soon brought on for Kovacic and he made some difference as our passing going forward became more fluid. Loftus-Cheek and Giroud came on for Barkley, and Tammy in the 63rd minute as we aimed to find the equaliser. The changes did make an impact as we started to create more chances and missed some good opportunities. It was again Pulisic’s run from the deep that drew a foul in the 72nd minute. Willian once again stepped up and curled a brilliant free kick in to make it 2-2. Chelsea went in the for the kill as we began to create chance after chance to win the game. We began to commit too many players up front though and one such counter was blocked and found Antonio. Antonio played the ball in Yarmolenko’s path who was totally free and he drove forward. Rudiger allowed Yarmolenko to switch on to his left foot and the Ukrainian scored the winner for West Ham. 3 points for Moyes and the Hammers and they do the double over Chelsea for the first time since 2003.
Player-wise, I keep defending Kepa but he needs to improve massively. I wouldn’t fault him for the 1st or 3rd goal but the 2nd could have easily been caught by the likes of Courtois or Cech before it even reached Soucek. Goalkeeper remains an area where Lampard might think Chelsea need to invest in. Azpilicueta was decent but he did fail to mark Soucek for the 2nd goal and failed to really put any dangerous crosses into the box. Alonso returned to his poor form as he failed to really make any positive impact on the game while his poor positioning meant that Yarmolenko was open on the left. Kante was solid during the game and kept patrolling the back line but even he can’t be everywhere at once. Barkley and Kovacic made no real impact during their time on the pitch and were rightly subbed off. Willian did well to get both goals although his creativity was lacking as any defender who has a brain would know that he would always cut down the right. Pulisic again was the man of the match for me from a Chelsea point of view as he drew both fouls and was a constant menace for West Ham. His performance was very similar to anyone of Hazard’s from last season when he basically was the only shining light. Tammy had an off game but he has had an off game for some time now, the fact remains that most of Tammy’s goals came during the 1st few months of the season and he has failed to perform well since, and with Werner at his doorstep he needs to start scoring otherwise he will find himself on the bench. Mount was decent and was lively as usual when he came on. Loftus-Cheek looked better than he did against Villa as he could have scored with this 1st touch and he was a threat in the box. Giroud was also impactful as his hold up play and presence meant that West Ham sat even deeper in their half. Lampard did well to make the changes and his starting XI was also well selected it is just that the defenders did not show the level of performance he deserved.
So, where does that leave Chelsea? Firstly I think it is clear that we need a left back and a centre back to be signed but not just any random ones. Chilwell is showing that he really should not be a target for the team while the likes of Tagliafico and Telles are available. Rudiger is a weak link and needs to be sold and maybe someone like Rice should be signed if rumours are true because the young West Ham captain played extremely well yesterday. This game also showed that we lack creativity and unpredictability and that is why someone like Havertz is so important. Chelsea remain 4th for now but our gap from 5th has been cut down to 2 points as Wolves and United stare up at us. Leicester are a point above us as well and so the top four race is basically between 4 teams with 2 finishing in the top four and if City is banned then 3 out of 4 reaching the Champions League. Next up for Chelsea is a visit from relegation threatened Watford on Saturday night where we will have to bounce back with a win. COME ON YOU BLUES!!!