LONDON — Three factors from Stamford Bridge on Chelsea’s 1-1 derby draw with West Ham within the Premier League.
1. Chelsea pegged again
This was one other two factors dropped for Chelsea — which shall be significantly irritating for residence supporters as a result of their facet ought to have been out of sight by half-time. Their attacking play was vibrant and solely a scarcity of ruthlessness hampered them: Alvaro Morata had two targets disallowed for offside — each appropriate selections, however he may need timed his runs higher in each cases.
The opener was scrappy. Cesar Azpilicueta, a surprisingly constant menace within the penalty field at set items right now, prodded residence from Morata’s knockdown within the aftermath of a nook kick to supply Chelsea with a 36th-minute lead. It is the seventh time the 2 Spaniards have mixed for a objective within the Premier League this season, the joint-most within the division (the opposite two contenders each involving Liverpool’s entrance three).
Regardless of the character of that objective, Chelsea’s soccer right here was typically very thrilling. Eden Hazard performed a notably central function, receiving ahead passes from midfield and feeding teammates with flicks and back-heels. Certainly, the transfer that led to the nook for Chelsea’s opener was one of the best soccer of the sport: Cesc Fabregas performed the ball into Hazard, who instantly fed Morata. His back-to-goal play returned the ball to Hazard, who performed Willian in on objective, and compelled a effective save from Joe Hart. It was an impressive transfer, slicing proper via West Ham.
Morata ought to have timed his runs higher, Willian poked previous the far put up after a Hazard back-heel and Victor Moses lower inside earlier than bending a left-footed shot simply broad of the far put up. And it appeared Chelsea would pay for his or her profligacy — so it proved, with Javier Hernandez’s 73rd-minute equaliser proving essential.
2. Hernandez saves West Ham
Javier Hernandez’s transfer to West Ham hasn’t labored out significantly nicely — he is discovered himself on the bench for almost all of the marketing campaign, with David Moyes lately preferring transformed winger Marko Arnautovic upfront. However Hernandez stays amongst essentially the most decisive penalty field finishers in England, and it took him simply three minutes to equalise right here, latching onto an Arnautovic cut-back and ending calmly in entrance of the away supporters.
Till then, the Hammers’ fundamental method was knocking lengthy diagonal balls in direction of centre-forward Arnautovic, who made some glorious runs into the channels in behind Chelsea’s broad centre-backs, however was largely remoted from teammates. One ball, from Arthur Masuaku within the opening levels, was glorious and briefly appeared to be dispatched in direction of objective, first-time, by Arnautovic within the fashion of Robin van Persie. The Austrian definitely has that capacity, however as a substitute took a contact and the possibility was gone. He additionally examined Thibaut Courtois with a roller from the sting of the field simply after half-time, however what he desperately wanted was some help.
There was, in fact, just one apparent choice — West Ham’s bench regarded extremely weak. So, with 20 minutes remaining Moyes despatched on Hernandez instead of the underwhelming Edmilson Fernandes. Edmilson affords way over Hernandez in the midst of the pitch, however the Mexican supplies apparent objective menace — and he solely wanted one likelihood, sweeping the ball residence right-footed with typical composure to degree the proceedings.
It was Hernandez’s eighth Premier League objective of the season, which sounds extra spectacular contemplating his lack of alternatives. This works out as one each 202 minutes — successfully a price of virtually one objective ever two video games — however poachers like Hernandez more and more appear a dying breed in top-level European soccer.
Except for Hernandez, two West Ham gamers impressed. Younger centre-back Declan Rice carried out nicely on the bottom and within the air, in opposition to the membership who launched him when he was 15. He is been certainly one of few positives from their marketing campaign. However their man of the match was goalkeeper Joe Hart, who was wrongfooted for Azpilicueta’s opener however subsequently made 5 glorious saves. The decide was a superb one-handed tip over the bar from Marcos Alonso’s long-range effort.”
Three. Chelsea play nicely, honour Wilkins
After Chelsea’s Three-1 defeat to Tottenham Hotspur right here final weekend, it is broadly acknowledged that their possibilities of ending within the prime 4 are actually over, and with severe doubts over Antonio Conte’s future, issues might have gone two methods.
Both Chelsea might have carried out what Chelsea have a behavior of doing when video games have little consequence: shutting down and switching off, conserving their power for subsequent week’s FA Cup semifinal in opposition to Southampton. Or, they may have turned it on, taking part in with out strain and a renewed sense of attacking function. Considerably surprisingly, it was the latter right here.
Chelsea supporters are entitled to ask exactly the place this Chelsea has been in current weeks, when the attacking play has been one-paced and the depth badly missing. This is identical group of gamers who triumphed so spectacularly within the Premier League final season, and whereas Conte can legitimately complain in regards to the poor high quality of latest arrivals final summer time, it is nonetheless unbelievable that Chelsea are actually seemingly solely preventing with Arsenal to complete fifth.
However maybe this contest was most notable for what occurred simply beforehand, because the afternoon started with a sequence of tributes to Ray Wilkins, whose loss of life was introduced on Wednesday on the age of 61. Wilkins was a massively revered determine throughout the nation and each Premier League recreation was preceded with a minute’s applause, however Stamford Bridge was his true residence.
Appointed captain of Chelsea at simply 18, Wilkins performed over 200 video games in midfield for the Blues and subsequently loved three separate spells as assistant supervisor. Banners at both finish of Stamford Bridge right now paid tribute to his affect on the membership, and prompted a sporadic standing ovation even earlier than referee Kevin Pal signalled the start of the “official” minute’s applause. West Ham supporters joined residence followers in observing the ovation.
It was a genuinely touching second, and a effective tribute to a person amongst essentially the most revered and widespread figures in current English soccer historical past.
Michael Cox is the editor of zonalmarking.internet and a contributor to ESPN FC. Observe him on Twitter @Zonal_Marking.