Chelsea – West Ham: The Blues scored once early and twice late to snap their two-game losing skid and secure all three points at Stamford Bridge on Monday.
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Thiago Silva bagged his second goal for the Blues inside the first 10 minutes and Tammy Abraham added a late brace to secure a victory that was, on the whole of 90 minutes, far less comfortable than the final score would indicate.
The victory sends Chelsea back into fifth in the Premier League table, while West Ham are down to 10th following results elsewhere this weekend.
1. Lampard’s best attackers don’t quite fit together: Fit matters, perhaps just as much — or more than — talent when it comes to building a cohesive and fruitful attacking unit. Frank Lampard presently has a handful of very talented attacking players who don’t fit into the same team. Tammy Abraham’s hold-up play is fantastic, but can only be used at center forward, which is where Timo Werner is best suited to play, so Werner gets pushed out to the left wing so he can remain somewhat goal-dangerous, but that means Christian Pulisic then has to move to the right wing where he’s far less involved. The tactical dominoes are falling the wrong direction for Lampard. It’s the only way to get Chelsea’s three best (healthy) attackers on the field together, but it results in half of the front-four being played out of position.
2. Chelsea’s transitions a bit sloppy and very slow: Chelsea have the personnel to play just about any way Lampard wants them to play — possession/breaking teams down, counter-attacking, or a mixture of both — but the one facet that remains important is how they transition from defense to attack in the first few seconds after winning the ball back — it has to be crisp, it has to be quick, and it has to move the ball forward. Far too many times the ball was either played sideways, backwards or to a West Ham player. Not only does it kill the opportunity for quick chances at the other end, but it keeps the Chelsea defense under undue pressure where they’re hardly at their best.
3. Conceding early goal doomed West Ham: David Moyes’ plan ahead of Monday’s game — and every game of his entire career — will have been to sit deep, soak up pressure and hit Chelsea on the counter. It’s worked wonders for the Hammers this season, as they entered the weekend 8th in the table, but that plan went out the window as soon as Chelsea scored with 10 minutes on the clock. The, it was the Blues who retreated and left little to no space in behind. West Ham didn’t have the personnel to break them down, and they never really had a sniff of the goal.
The game’s first scoring chance came in the 7th minute, and Declan Rice slotted the ball into the back of the net from an incredibly tight — nearly impossible — angle with multiple defenders racing back, and failing, to clear the ball off the line. However, Rice was far enough offside — half a body’s width — when the free kick was taken that video review wasn’t even required.
Chelsea hit back and took the lead almost immediately, as Silva was left all by his lonesome on a corner kick won by Christian Pulisic in the 10th minute. Mason Mount served up the perfect ball for the Brazilian, who powered the ball home with Lukasz Fabianski helpless in the West Ham goal.
Werner should have doubled Chelsea’s lead in the 43rd minute after the ball fell to Pulisic in the middle of the field, with plenty of space — and a pair of teammates — ahead of him. Pulisic carried the ball 25 or 30 yards straight forward and slid it to Werner immediately to his left. Werner received the pass 15 yards from goal and tried to slot it under Fabianski, who made a fairly tough save look easy.
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West Ham enjoyed the lion’s share of (meaningful) possession in the second half, though the Hammers managed to create very little from it — partially down to the absence of anything resembling a final pass, and partially down to Chelsea’s constricting defensive block.
Abraham blew the game wide open in the 78th minute, as he slotted a deft finish home from Werner’s low cross just inside the far post.
Two minutes later, Abraham cleaned up Fabianski’s mess in front of goal to make it 3-0. Pulisic helped to force the goal by challenging Fabianski as Mount’s floated cross arrived at the back post. Fabianski had to deal with Pulisic first, which resulted in the ball being spilled inside the six-yard box for Abraham to pounce and hammer home.