The scoreboard might have read 3-0 at the end of the 90 minutes at Stamford Bridge last night, but the game itself was a much-much closer affair than that. Until Tammy Abraham’s brace put the visitors away in the final ten minutes or so, the outcome was far from assured.
And it wasn’t just us expecting a nervy ending to the closely fought contest, as head coach Frank Lampard reflected afterwards.
“...what they are doing at the minute with quality in attacking areas and the way they play, [West Ham] are a very effective team. I don’t want to say the performance was bad. It was really good when you think they can do to you with crosses coming in.
“Our defensive game was great. I wasn’t sure it would be a beautiful game today because there is pressure and they are a good side. The lads dealt with that side of it very well.”
West Ham did have the ball in the back of the net twice, but Declan Rice’s sharp-angle effort was rightly ruled out for offside and Jarrod Bowen’s finish was chalked off for a foul on Thiago Silva, who certainly put his body on the line in this one with several big blocks and a strong aerial presence (including a goal at the other end to get Chelsea on the board early).
That’s seven clean sheets for Chelsea now in the league (in 14 games); we had nine all last season in 38. Maintaining that wall will be especially important in the festive fixtures crunch coming up. With every team struggling for consistency — except Liverpool and Arsenal, to opposite effect — Chelsea should get a chance to solidify our top-four standing with the nine points on tap between now and the new year.
“The league is so tough because we are seeing results every week that might surprise some. It is hard for most teams to sustain the form or results that might be expected in different seasons. There is a culmination of reasons for that.
“I don’t want to jump the gun, the games in front of us are tough. We have Arsenal on Boxing Day and Villa two days later without any turnaround. Then, we have City early in the New Year. That’s really tough so the onus is on us rather than to say it too much.
“[...] You have to take every game at face value. With Arsenal, I see it as a team with great quality and a class manager who are in a tough moment and that’s a really dangerous combination to go against so we have to prepare right.”
-Frank Lampard; source: Football.London
Incidentally, City and Villa are the only two teams with better defensive records than Chelsea, albeit both with at least one game in hand. And that just might put an even greater premium on goals — both scoring and preventing them.