Football

Chelsea frustrated by West Ham's "19th century football"

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A frustrating night for Chelsea
A frustrating night for Chelsea.

West Ham hung on for a crucial point at Stamford Bridge as they frustrated Chelsea in an otherwise entertaining goalless draw.

As expected, the Blues monopolised possession and the best chances but the Hammers were not without threat themselves.

Eden Hazard came to life in the second period and set up numerous opportunities for the likes of Frank Lampard and Willian, but Jose Mourinho’s side could not crack a tough West Ham defence.

On a drenched Stamford Bridge pitch, West Ham set about executing Sam Allardyce’s game-plan - a style Jose Mourinho would go on to describe as "nineteenth century football."

And with Andy Carroll spearheading the attack, they looked a completely different proposition to the team that has struggled so badly this term.

They soaked up pressure for large parts of the first 45 minutes and struck selectively on the counter.

James Tomkins had a header well saved by Petr Cech after 12 minutes while Carroll’s knock downs prompted momentary panic in the Chelsea box on more than one occasion.

Eden Hazard and Oscar remained on the periphery - save one magnificently curled effort onto the bar by the latter - while it was their Brazilian teammate, Willian, who looked the brightest of the trio.

The game pottered towards the interval with little action of note until the final few minutes when it sparked back into life.

Adrian first denied John Terry’s header from a corner before smartly reacting to Samuel Eto’o’s low strike from eight yards. That was to be the final action of a first half short on quality.

In the second, Chelsea stepped it up a gear. West Ham were content to defend the perimeters of their 18-yard box, acutely aware of Hazard’s propensity to duck inside. That led to a bevy of crosses - but where was Eto’o?

The Cameroonian failed to capitalise on at least three whipped balls across the box - he was nowhere to be seen. But the game was livening up nicely even in his absence.

And on one rare forage forward the Hammers could easily have taken a shock lead. Andy Carroll was the culprit, the ball broke to the England man eight out yards out but his air-shot was unfortunately timed.

Joey O’Brien then took retribution on Willian after the Brazilian gave him twisted blood with a beautiful stepover - Willian was promptly dispatched into next week with a terrible challenge minutes later that drew a yellow card.

And, as the game moved into the final 25 minutes, Hazard flashed a 22-yard effort just wide. Chelsea were ramping up the pressure, but West Ham remained a concern.

The Hammers threw bodies in front of Chelsea attacks, first Matt Taylor, then James Collins and James Tomkins, restricting Chelsea to pot-shots from range.

Frustration at the Bridge mounted as the game inched towards its conclusion. Willian continued to dance, Hazard probed and Mourinho threw on Lampard, Ba and Matic.

The Belgian international in particular came to life in the final throes of the match, gliding past Guy Demel time after time. He possesses that Messi-like quality to reach top speed, with the ball glued to his foot, and retains the quickness of mind to react in dazzingly rapid fashion.

He was the source of all Chelsea’s good work in the final ten minutes, as they put the hammer down on West Ham.

At the death, he set up Frank Lampard for the classic Lampard finish - 12 yards out, first-time hit. Stamford Bridge has seen it so many times, but on this occasion Adrian body-blocked it clear.

The Hammers survived for a point, perhaps a crucial one in their fight for survival. And certainly a deserved one after a battling performance at the Bridge.

After the game, Mourinho said it best: “We needed a Black & Decker.”

Even then, the West Ham wall may have stood firm. 

Topics:
Premier League
Chelsea
West Ham United
Football
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