Turning Wins Into Draws: Wasteful Chelsea Drop Points Against West Ham
On the bright side, there’s only six more games to endure this season. But let’s stick to hard facts for a while. Chelsea are on course for missing out on Champions League qualification yet again and could also miss out on its ugly cousin, the Europa League, if things don’t improve sharpish. It was a familiar tale of woe as West Ham snatched a 1-1 draw from a game that Chelsea dominated.
Here are the talking points from another disappointment. They just keep on coming.
#1 Wilkins Tribute
The game itself was overshadowed by the Ray Wilkins’ untimely demise. The Chelsea legend passed away earlier this week at just 61 years of age. Fans paid their respects outside the stadium while special banners were held aloft inside the ground remembering Butch. Chelsea players warmed up wearing Wilkins’ number 8. The seat beside Antonio Conte, usually reserved for the assistant manager, was kept vacant as a mark of respect for Ray Wilkins, who served admirably as the assistant to Gianluca Vialli, Guus Hiddink and Carlo Ancelotti. Both sets of fans sang “One Ray Wilkins” in unison and held a minute’s applause in the eighth minute of the game. It was a touching farewell to a great man and a great player.
#2 No Surprises
There was still a match to be played, and Conte did not make big changes despite the loss to Spurs. Andreas Christensen was replaced by Gary Cahill in defence. Fabregas and Kante started in the middle of the park with Alonso and Moses for company on either side. Morata led the line with support from Willian and Hazard. The defence started pretty well; almost uncharacteristically calm despite Cahill’s presence in the middle. Rudiger was feisty and always looking to charge forward, while Azpilicueta was his usual self. Chelsea were completely controlling the game from the start and it seemed to be only a matter of time before they broke the deadlock.
#3 Morata On The Mend
After returning from injury, it has taken quite a while for Morata to build up form and fitness, but he seems to be operating at almost 100% now. Against West Ham he was more involved in the buildup than usual, which was a welcome change. He was winning headers in the opposition half, keeping possession, spraying passes wide and making good runs. He had two goals disallowed for being offside, but in both cases he was only marginally off. He did miss a free header in the later part of the game but before that he had set up the opening goal. He won the header from a Chelsea corner and cushioned it towards Azpilicueta, who took a couple of touches before rolling the ball towards goal and seeing it bobble into the net. It was an encouraging performance from the striker after a long time. But it wasn’t enough to get all three points.
#4 Professional Profligacy
By now you already know the drill. Here’s how it goes – create chances, fail to take said chances, concede. After setting up camp in the West Ham box for almost the entire match without managing to beat the mighty Joe Hart in goal, Chelsea let one in at the other end. Chelsea kept on shooting vaguely towards the West Ham goal but just could not get through. Aside from getting on the pitch and scoring a belter himself, there was little Antonio Conte could do from the touchline, with his players’ shooting accuracy plummeting with each swing of the boot.
#5 Little Pain In The Arse
Ah, Little Pea. Chicharito, you little so-and-so. Why must you always score against us? Why?
And with that, the game finished 1-1, leaving a gap of just three measly points between us and Arsenal in sixth. Southampton are up next. The Saints themselves are battling against relegation, which puts our struggles into context. For once, let’s try not to be charitable and hand them a point or three, please.