I remember a time 12 months ago when a home draw against West Ham would have been a disappointing result. Those 12 months feel like an eternity. \
On Saturday, Chelsea were outplayed at Stamford bridge by one of their smaller London rivals, but a pair of goals from Cesc Fabregas was enough to limit the damage to a draw. Ultimately, that draw will probably wind up being far more damaging to West Ham's season than it will be to ours.
Guus Hiddink started out with a weaker squad than we're used to seeing, with both Diego Costa and Eden Hazard unavailable. Kenedy started on the left in place of Hazard, while Loic Remy was recalled from the wilderness to lead the line in Costa's stead. In addition, the woefully out-of-form Oscar got a start behind the striker, and a much needed opportunity to get back in the good graces of Chelsea's fans.
The derby kicked off as a surprisingly open affair, probably due in large part to Chelsea having little reason to be conservative, while West Ham really needed three points. Unfortunately for the Blues, that wide open match led to an opener for the visitors, when a tackle from John Obi Mikel (following several poor attempts to clear) fell to the feet of Manuel Lanzini. The Argentine beat Thibaut Courtois with an absolutely sensational shot from about 25 yards out, but with some better initial defending, that shot likely never happens in the first place.
The Blues settled down a bit following the opener, though they looked fairly unlikely to score, with Loic Remy dropping deep or running wide far too often, and no Chelsea players attacking of the open spaces in the middle of the pitch. Fortunately, when given the chance to take a set piece from the left side in place of Willian, Cesc Fabregas delivered a stunner that left Adrian with no chance. It was 1-1 heading into the break, and Chelsea looked to have a bit of life.
The second half saw one enforced change, with Kenedy making way for Pedro before the action resumed. The 20-year old was struck in the face as the first 45 minutes neared their conclusion, and though he was able to get patched up and finish out the half, Guus decided to make the switch during the intermission.
Chelsea looked better after the break, but some typically calamitous defending some them fall behind again just after the hour mark. Gary Cahill managed to break the high line and play on the newly substituted Andy Carroll, while Branislav Ivanovic ignored Cahill's attempt to pass off the center forward. One Dimitri Payet pass later, and Carroll was one on one with Courtois, who wasn't able to do anything with a relatively tame effort.
Hiddink made two more changes as the Blues chased the result, bringing Bertrand Traore on for Remy, and giving Ruben Loftus-Cheek a cameo when the woeful Oscar was removed. The latter would wind up winning a controversial penalty just minutes after coming on, when he made a brilliant run that Willian picked out, only to be brought down on the edge of the penalty area. Replay seemed to confirm that RLC was actually outside the box when he was tripped, but given the rotten luck we've had with referees this season, I'll take it.
The Blues will now have two weeks off to get rested and healthy, and we'll probably hear a decision on Diego Costa's suspension during that international break. Eight more to play...