Hammers Clinch Crucial Chelsea Point
Every time Graham Potter visited West Ham United as Brighton and Hove Albion manager, he was victorious on each occasion but, in Saturday’s early kick-off, David Moyes extended his personal record at home to Chelsea, as the two sides drew 1-1.
The Hammers’ boss was able to name an unchanged team from last weekend’s draw at Newcastle United, despite Captain Declan Rice carrying a virus. Both Joseph Anang and Krisztián Hegyi were named on the bench, as Alphonse Areola didn’t recover from a hamstring injury in time.
Thilo Kehrer was substituted at half-time at St James’ Park with a hamstring injury but had made a quicker than expected recovery in order to start the game.
You have to go back to a 2-0 success at Aston Villa on 16 October for the last time that the Blues last won on the road and now that they have thoroughly reinforced the squad in January, they were looking to improve that particular statistic.
The visitors made an electrifying start and it was hard to say how the East Londoners would be able to get anything from this game. Potter’s men thought they had grabbed the advantage early on when João Félix followed up after the ball had come back off the post but the Benfica loanee was ruled offside to the relief of the hosts.
The Hammers’ boss had to make an early change, as Lucas Paquetá injured his shoulder and despite trying to carry on, the Brazilian midfielder was eventually replaced by Tomáš Souček on fourteen minutes.
Chelsea went in front just two minutes later. Félix finally got his goal when he was in the right place to get on the end of a cross from Enzo Fernández to beat home goalkeeper Łukasz Fabiański.
Moyes’ men were given another repreve on twenty two minutes when another new recruit, Mykhailo Mudryk played in Kai Havertz but the German international had his effort ruled out by VAR.
Soon after, the Irons clicked into gear and just as it did on Tyneside last weekend, the high press proved effective for the home side. Visiting stopper Kepa Arrizabalaga did brilliantly to prevent Michail Antonio from equalising.
However, they kept the pressure up and got back level on twenty eight minutes. Emmerson Palmieri scored his first Premier League goal since joining the club in the summer and, of course, it would come against his former side!!! Vladimír Coufal forced Marc Cucurella into an error and a great team move ended with the Brazilian defender giving Arrizabalaga no chance and in turn bringing loud cheers from the majority inside the stadium.
The visitors were keen to get back into the ascendancy and it was only the sharp reactions of Fabiański that denied them. On thirty four minutes, the Pole thwarted Noni Madueke, as he looked to put his team back in front.
When referee Craig Pawson brought the first-half to an end, the home side were hoping that they could replicate their recent form in this fixture, while Potter would have been wanting better from his side, given the quality in his squad.
The home crowd saw their side start the second-half on the front foot. Saïd Benrahma set up Rice to try his luck but the skipper saw his attempt go wide of the target.
It looked like it would be anyone’s game by this point and when Coufal fouled Mudryk, Reece James sent the free-kick over but fortunately for the home faithful, Antonio saw the danger and made a timely clearance.
Both managers made a number of changes with sixty seven minutes gone. Moyes withdrew both Benrahma and Antonio and brought on Flynn Downes and Danny Ings, while Potter made three substitutions with Cucurella, Mudryk and Madueke coming off in favour of Ben Chilwell, Mason Mount and Hakim Ziyech.
Nayef Aguerd then suffered an injury, meaning Moyes made his final change with eighty minutes gone. Ben Johnson was introduced to take the place of the Moroccan.
The former Swansea City and Brighton and Hove Albion boss thought his alterations would make a difference however, with eight minutes of normal time to play, the home side thought they had secured three vital points when Pawson awarded West Ham a free-kick.
Palmieri took responsibility for the set-piece and picked out Rice, who had his header saved by Arrizabalaga, only for Souček to fire home the rebound. Cue pandemonium!!! However, you had the feeling that VAR would intervene and it did. A lengthy check found that both Rice and Souček were offside.
The Czech midfielder might have been responsible for giving away a penalty late on, when he was adjudged to have handled the ball but Pawson saw nothing and the technology backed him up.
All of which meant it was another point taken in what has been a good start to the month. The Hammers will hope to extend their recent form when they make the trip to The Tottenham Hotspur Stadium next Sunday.