Chelsea 0-1 West Ham United
Chelsea missed a chance to go joint second in the Premier League today as they were beaten by struggling West Ham at Stamford Bridge.
Head coach Frank Lampard came through the youth ranks at Upton Park, making his Premier League debut for the Hammers, so he has good friends at the East End club.
But the Hammers did a job on his young team today. While the Blues dominated possession, they were hit by a second-half sucker punch from Aaron Cresswell and never really looked like recovering.
The Premier League 2019 betting odds have Lampard’s Chelsea as very strong candidates for a top-four place, which would be some achievement. They still have a six-point cushion over fifth-placed Spurs, but the Lilywhites’ change of manager has increased the pressure on the leading group.
West Ham seemed too respectful of Jose Mourinho when they came up against Spurs last week, going three goals down. But they didn’t make the same mistake again, and that’s all credit to their under-fire head coach Manuel Pellegrini.
Highlights of the game
Chelsea were on the front foot from the off as the in-form Christian Pulisic stretched the Hammers defence brilliantly. He took the ball down on the left flank before beating two defenders and firing a dangerous ball across the box which Pedro was inches away from converting.
Wing-back Reece James came close to a lucky strike when his cross took a wicked deflection off Aaron Cresswell. Hammers keeper David Martin was beaten, but the ball bounced to safety off the post.
A couple of minutes later, Kepa was called into action in the Chelsea goal. Robert Snodgrass crossed and Michail Antonio thumped his header goalwards, but the Chelsea keeper made a great save from point-blank range.
Olivier Giroud was making his first start since August, and he almost broke the deadlock just before the break. Mateo Kovacic fired a shot in which Martin saved, but he spilt the ball out, only to recover brilliantly as Giroud looked to stab the rebound home.
The Blues had the better of the first half but had a shocking start to the second, going behind just three minutes after the break. Pablo Fornals found Cresswell in space in the penalty area and the left-back took a touch before firing expertly past Kepa to give the Hammers an unexpected lead.
That was a shock to Chelsea and they struggled to get going. And the Hammers fans were celebrating again midway through the half. Michail Antonio bundled the ball home, but VAR cancelled it out, correctly, as it had hit the forward on his arm before bouncing over the line.
Lampard rolled the dice on 70 minutes, bringing on Callum Hudson-Odoi to replace Giroud and Chelsea finished the game without a recognised striker. That was a risk which didn’t pay off.
They only really had one more big chance. With two minutes remaining, Willian passed to N’Golo Kante, who found Pulisic some 20 yards out but the American fired his half volley wide.
And that just about summed up Chelsea’s day.
This was Chelsea’s 250th Premier League London derby but there was no party at the Bridge at the final whistle.
It’s the first time the Hammers have beaten Chelsea here since 2002 and they had to work hard for it. The Blues had 65 per cent possession and won the shot count by 19 to five. But they never really tested the West Ham keeper enough, with only three clear-cut chances to West Ham’s two. But that was all the visitors needed.
In a full midweek programme, the SBOBET team will be right across all the action so keep it here for all the latest Premier League 2019 news, previews and match highlights.
Reports in the UK press have suggested Manuel Pellegrini had two games to save his job, and with Wolves away next, this was a mighty big win for the popular Chilean coach. He can now head to the West Midlands in a more relaxed frame of mind, so let’s hope we’ve seen the end of managerial sackings for a while.
The Hammers then host Arsenal at the London Stadium a week on Monday.
Meanwhile, the Blues will try to get their campaign back on track at home to new boys Aston Villa before an away trip to Everton next weekend. Speaking of which, the Toffees boss Marco Silva is a man under pressure…
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