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Premier League
Saturday, 23rd November 2013

West Ham United 0
Chelsea 3

by Trevor Twohig


A toothless and lacklustre display ensured the Hammers were well beaten by their West London rivals at Upton Park.

Having never been to this fixture before, I was excited to say the least. I assumed there would be nothing less than a gutsy performance, matched with an electric atmosphere -neither of these materialised.

Chelsea were impressive in patches but it was the Irons who carved out the better opportunities in the opening minutes. West Ham continued to pass the ball well and found a couple of openings through Stewart Downing on the left hand side to no avail.

Frank Lampard, right in the centre of the action as always found himself the butt of the home-faithful jokes. However he was to have the last laugh in the 21st minute when Guy Demel fluffed a backpass to the helpless Jaaskeleinen. The veteran keeper had no opportunity to come rushing out to heed the danger.

Sadly his 38-year old legs were not as nimble as those of Oscar’s for the Blues and the West Ham keeper sent him tumbling for an undisputable Chelsea penalty. Up steps East London’s not-so favourite son to fire into the roof of the net and put Chelsea 1-0 up. Cue OTT celebrations from a man who should really know better and the atmosphere started heating up.

Back to the action and Chelsea were well in control. The way they passed and moved with confidence was sublime at times with Oscar and Hazard proving the hub of the majority of their attacks. West Ham were not without their chances though. A ball played into the box was struck goalwards by Joe Cole, only to be whipped clear by the Chelsea defence.

On 34 minutes another defensive lapse put the Blues 2-0 up. Calamity-a-game James Collins went sprinting to meet the sprightly Oscar, leaving himself woefully out of position and the defence vulnerable. Quite predictably, he was turned by the young star who headed goalwards and snuck a low drive into the bottom corner.

2-0 down at home with little more than half an hour gone and Big Sam was prompted into action - a double substitution with Mo Diame and Modibo Maiga brought on in place of Jack Collison and Joe Cole. It was not a popular decision, especially pulling off Cole, whose shirt was promptly ripped off and thrown somewhere in the vicinity of the subs bench.

"You don’t know what you’re doing" was the message from some fans who blamed the manager's insistence on playing a 4-6-0 formation for seemingly getting us into this mess in the first place. Ho hum.

West Ham started the second half slightly brighter but with Chelsea having the better opportunities. Impressive attacking moves resulted in Lampard nearly getting on the end of another Chelsea attack. A third was coming.

In fairness, West Ham passed the ball better in the second half and did dominate periods of possession. Ravel Morrison picked out some lovely passes but once again we were toothless up front.

At the risk of repeating myself once again, how can Kevin Nolan remain on the pitch when as the leader of our ‘attack’ he consistently fails to make an impression on the goal? It beggars belief. Maybe Big Sam’s sheer stubbornness will be the death of him? I fear anything but a win against Fulham and the big man is in a lot of trouble.

Eventually, with 15 minutes to go, Allardyce relented and brought on Matt Jarvis for his ever-present leader. I was quite surprised to hear boos go around the ground when Nolan came off and only a smattering of handclaps also. Perhaps, the tide is seriously beginning to turn at Upton Park.

Whilst reading the programme notes at half time, Nolan talks of his desire to lead the team out at the Olympic Stadium. This sent a shiver of harrowing fear down my spine as I read. God forbid!

By this stage, I had seen enough and headed for the men's room before the walk to the car. A thunderous roar came from above me as Lampard’s second and Chelsea’s third went in; I bolted for the cold, East London air.

So, what next for West Ham United? It does seem that the penny has dropped for Big Sam regarding the striker situation. If the papers are to be believed the Irons are in for every aging striker across Europe, so in some respects that is a positive sign.

Numerous other questions remain however. Why sign Carlton Cole and not play him? Was it a Sullivan signing? Why does one of our best players, Diame not start? When he does play why he is on the sodding wing? Why, oh why does Kevin Nolan continue to get the nod? Where is the fight in the dog?

Next Saturday we host Fulham at home; this has truly become a must win game for the Irons.



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Player Ratings

Jussi Jaaskelainen
Doesn’t like coming out to crosses.


Guy Demel
Has skill – but defensive error cost us.


Joey O Brien
A few poor passes early on but fine overall.


James Collins
Groan. Another defensive lapse costs us.


James Tomkins
Solid enough.


Mark Noble
Lots of endeavour – still playing well.


Jack Collison
Taken off after just 40 minutes.


Stewart Downing
Lost of endeavour - very little cutting edge.


Joe Cole
Taken off after just 40 minutes.


Ravel Morrison
Picks a great pass – our best player currently but needs to pull the trigger more.


Kevin Nolan
Good at chasing down the opposition keeper...


Substitutes


Mo Diame
A few decent moments but another who's struggling to adapt to a striker-less formation.


Modibo Maiga
Presumably introduced in hope of repeating his exploits in the corresponding fixture last year. Even when presented with a sitter he fluffed his lines.


Matt Jarvis
Fairly limited involvement in his fifteen minutes on the pitch.


Adrian
Did not play.


George McCartney
Did not play.


Matthew Taylor
Did not play.


Carlton Cole
Did not play.



Match Facts

Referee: Chris Foy.

Attendance: 34,977.

Man of the Match: Mark Noble.

West Ham United

Jussi Jaaskelainen, Guy Demel, Joey O Brien, James Collins, James Tomkins, Mark Noble, Jack Collison, Stewart Downing, Joe Cole, Ravel Morrison, Kevin Nolan.

Goals: None.

Booked: None booked.           .

Sent Off: None sent off.     .

Chelsea

Petr Cech, Branislav Ivanovic, Gary Cahill, John Terry, Cesar Azpilicueta, Nascimento Ramires, Mikel, Frank Lampard, Emboaba Oscar, Samuel Eto'o, Eden Hazard.

Substitutes: Demba Ba (Samuel Eto'o 79), Andre Schurrle (Emboaba Oscar 83), Michael Essien ( Eden Hazard 84).

Subs not used: Mark Schwarzer, Ashley Cole, Juan Mata, da Silva Willian.

Goals: Lampard (pen 21, 82), Oscar (34).

Booked: None booked..

Sent Off: None sent off..

 
Trevor Twohig's Man of the Match: Mark Noble


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