Trips to Olympic Stadium in recent times rarely bring Chelsea good memories. West Ham are of course not an easy side to face nor to beat in any circumstance, and they managed to turn what could have been just another soulless Olympic-ready arena into a proper football stadium.
There are ways to combat this especially if you’re a top team, or are vying to be one. One of them is not allow West Ham play the good ol’ “balls to the air” football style with a set-piece specialist putting the ball anywhere he wants so David Moyes’ side uses their height/aerial ability advantage over your team.
Easier said than done as Nayef Aguerd easily beat both Carney Chukwuemeka and Conor Gallagher in the box to get the opening goal for West Ham, with the assist provided by former Southampton midfielder James Ward-Prowse in his Hammers debut.
Chelsea already seemed nervous before the opener, and suffering the setback in such an obvious manner seemed to worse our spirits further. But while previous version of Chelsea would find it hard to even begin mounting a comeback, this iteration feels otherwise.
Chukwuemeka, Raheem Sterling and Nicolas Jackson were spearheading the attack and our chances upfront, helped by spicy Enzo Fernández defence-slicing passes. And Chuk would be the one to score the tying goal after a great solo effort and placed shot to beat Alphonse Aréola.
However it also seems Chelsea’s luck hasn’t changed. Sterling suffered a foul in the box from Tomas Soucek and Enzo stepped up to the spot to take the penalty. His attempt was weak and low to the ground — just the kind of shot which is perfect for a goalkeeper like Aréola to defend and become the man of the match.
In stoppage time, worse came to worst. Chukwuemeka started complaining about an injury and fell to the ground. He left the pitch only with help from the doctors as he could add any pressure to his left foot.
Mykhailo Mudryk entered the pitch in his place and at least in the first few minutes, he could not make the same impact as Chukwuemeka. While West Ham continued to menace Chelsea with a few loose balls, they did what they had to do with help from a huge Axel Disasi mistake that got Michail Antonio all the time in the world to put the hosts back in the lead.
Moisés Caicedo was put on the pitch to make his debut in a rather difficult situation. There was little to no midfield play for him to take part as West Ham just turtled themselves into their defensive third, while Mudryk really struggled to make any impact in offence despite Sterling’s best attempts. Madueke was also introduced later on but it seemed as if he was still holding himself back after some time out of contention due to injury.
There was still time for West Ham to add a third. Caicedo’s unfortunate timing on a Emerson foul in the box gave Lucas Paquetá the chance to score from the spot kick, after a hellish week for the Brazilian player.
- 3-5-2 / 3-4-3 again for a match against the strong men in West London.
- Subs are Mykhailo Mudryk for Carney Chukwuemeka, Moisés Caicedo for Ben Chilwell, Noni Madueke for Conor Gallagher, and Mason Burstow for Malo Gusto.
- Massive defensive error from both Conor Gallagher and Carney Chukwuemeka in West Ham’s first goal. We really need to work on defending these plays.
- Chukwuemeka more than makes up for it with great attacking impetus and a goal to boot!
- Get well soon, Chuk.
- Caicedo debuts!
- And so does Mason Burstow!
- The missed penalty will be looked at the defining moment of today’s match. That combined with Chuk’s injury really took the light out of us.
- Next up: Luton Town at home in the Premier League.