Chelsea Keep Pressure up in Top Four Chase
David Moyes would have wanted a positive result against Chelsea on Saturday to celebrate his 58th birthday but unfortunately, Thomas Tuchel’s side became the only team to take all three points from a London derby in Stratford this season, as they beat West Ham United 1-0 to stay in the Champions League places.
Two changes were made from last weekend’s defeat at St James’ Park, as Fabián Balbuena replaced the suspended Craig Dawson, while Ryan Fredericks was preferred to Ben Johnson who dropped to the bench.
The Hammers picked up a remarkable win over Leicester City last time they were on home turf and looking to bounce back after the reverse to the Magpies a week ago, the home side were determined not to let Chelsea dictate play in the early stages and were making it hard for them to find a breakthrough.
Chelsea couldn’t take advantage of an opening when Mason Mount set up Timo Werner but fortunately for the hosts, the German’s effort went wide.
On thirty four minutes the Irons thought they should have been awarded a penalty. The ball fell invitingly for Tomáš Souček, who attempted a shot but it was blocked by César Azpilicueta. There were protests that the ball had hit the Spaniard’s arm but referee Christopher Kavanagh gave nothing and a VAR check agreed.
Seven minutes later however, Tuchel’s men went in front. A slick team move from the visitors involving Christian Pulisic and Ben Chilwell allowed the former Leicester City man to play in Werner, who had the easiest of tasks to beat goalkeeper Łukasz Fabiański.
In the last three meetings with the Blues here, West Ham haven’t experienced defeat and they would need to show some of that spirit in the second-half if they were going to extend that run.
Since Tuchel took over from Frank Lampard back in January, the visitors have boasted an unbeaten record and they had a great chance to go further ahead on fifty four minutes. Mount again did all the hard work but I bet that the striker would be at a loss to explain how he managed to send the ball wide rather than past Fabiański.
Having been let off the hook, the Hammers went close to levelling matters, as Jesse Lingard tried his luck but his effort flashed just wide of Edouard Mendy’s goal.
Moyes decided to make a double change with just over twenty minutes left to try and salvage something from the game, so he replaced Captain Mark Noble and Pablo Fornals with Manuel Lanzini and Saïd Benrahma.
Mount and Werner had been working well together throughout this game and the pair linked up to good effect again but thankfully for the East Londoners, Fabianski was on hand to save everything that they were throwing at him.
A moment of real controversy occurred with just nine minutes of normal time left. In an attempt to clear the ball upfield, Balbuena accidentally caught Chilwell. Kavanagh whistled, gave the foul and was told to review it on the pitchside monitor. He then sent the defender off to reduce West Ham to ten men for the second time in as many games.
Two minutes later, Moyes decided to change formation and bring on Johnson in place of Fredericks.
In becoming the fourth side to do the double over the Irons, Chelsea had claimed their first win in Stratford since March 2017. The Hammers will have to wait until 3 May to make amends for this defeat when they travel to Turf Moor to take on Burnley.