They say you can get bored of winning. They say that without a challenge, it's impossible to truly enjoy the fruits of victory. They say that drama is what keeps things interesting. They say a lot of things, in other words, but based on how pleasant today was I'm inclined to think that that's a load of tosh. A never-in-doubt 3-0 win away at West Ham? I'll take that every time.
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Arsenal cruise past Saints
A pair of goals from Olivier Giroud -- one a penalty, the other the result of a goalkeeping howler -- gave Arsenal three points against Southampton at the Emirates.
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Coming off an ugly loss to Newcastle and a just-as-ugly home draw versus West Bromwich Albion, Chelsea needed a fast start. Unfortunately, they didn't get it. Both sides were playing extremely conservatively and not moving the ball around particularly well, and for a few minutes there was some fear of a repeat of the ugly performances we got before the international break.
Fortunately, we were playing West Ham, a team that's had one and a half good performances so far this season. As long as the Blues took their chances when the Hammers made a mistake -- and they were always going to, assuming we put any pressure on them at all -- the win would come.
When the error arrived, it was spectacular. Chelsea held the ball in the home third for an extended period but didn't really manage to get anywhere with it, ultimately leading to Gary Cahill trying an audacious and quite silly chip over the West Ham defence. Unsurprisingly, said didn't work, falling straight to Guy Demel.
The right back had time to guide the ball back to Jussi Jaaskelainen. He had time to boot the ball out of play. He did neither, allowing Cahill's pass to land on his knee and trickle in the vague direction of goal. Jaaskelainen came out to meet it, but Osar was quicker, getting his foot to the ball before the goalkeeper could smother it and earning a very obvious penalty. Frank Lampard was called upon to take the spot kick, and shortly thereafter number 206 was sent screaming into the roof of the net.
West Ham were on their heels, and Chelsea would quickly double their lead. Eden Hazard drew James Collins out of position and flicked the ball past him, leaving Oscar to drive through the centre, get James Tomkins half-turned, and guide a low shot into the bottom corner from the outside of the box.
A 1-0 lead might have been slightly precarious, but a two-goal cushion with the Hammers playing like they were felt like it might as well have been ten. Sam Allardyce certainly agreed, yanking Joe Cole and Jack Collision for Mohamed Diame and Modibo Maiga before halftime.
The bold swap didn't really accomplish anything. Chelsea were as dominant after the break as they were before it. Mark Noble was forced to clear off the line from Gary Cahill, Oscar screwed a shot just wide after being set up by the superb Cesar Azpilicueta, and Samuel Eto'o came within inches of getting the third with a spectacular, swerving strike that beat Jaaskelainen but flashed past the post.
West Ham had one chance of note all match. The ghost of competence suddenly took hold of Demel, and he managed to beat three Chelsea defenders with an astonishing run before playing a ball off the leg of John Terry to Maiga, who, from point blank range, somehow contrived to send the ball rolling past the post at three miles per. Even if it had been on target, Branislav Ivanovic would have been able to clear up the mess.
That was as close as it came to the hosts scoring. Chelsea's defending was superb all evening, with Azpilicueta the standout -- his first half tackle of Ravel Morrison as the young midfielder tried to run through the middle was a thing of beauty. With the back line holding out without breaking a sweat, the only question left was how many more the Blues would manage.
Sadly, we'd only make it to three, but I don't think anyone would begrudge the scorer. Lampard, who (along with Ramires) was far happier in the 4-3-3 than he'd been in a two-man midfield, struck again eight minutes from time, pouncing on a rebound and lashing in from the edge of the box to ensure that the scoreline better reflected the magnitude of Chelsea's dominance. Demba Ba, on for Eto'o, could have made it four during injury time, but his crisp finish was disallowed thanks to a marginal but probably correct offside descision.
And so we settled for a 3-0 win. That keeps pace with Arsenal, who beat Southampton at the Emirates earlier, and it draws us even on points and goal differential with Liverpool, who, thanks in large part to a Romelu Lukaku brace, were held by Everton in the early game. Third place obviously isn't ideal as we head towards winter, but despite the low quality of opposition there was real promise here.
Now we just need to keep it up.