Premier League
West Ham United 0 Chelsea 3

Saturday, 23rd November 2013
by Gordon Thrower

I've had better days.

A lost oyster card and TfL's & C2C's clever decision to schedule engineering works for the weekend of a London derby (rather than use either of the previous two weeks when we weren't about) all made for an annoying journey. Hopefully the pregnant woman caught up in the crush at West Ham tube was ok.

Team news was that Rat was out having picked up a hamstring pull in the international break. Collison was preferred once more to Diame and there was still no sign of a start for anyone who you might call a striker.

Team: JJ, Demel, O'Brien, Collins, Tomkins, Noble, Collison, Diame, Cole (J) Downing, Nolan.

Whilst it wasn't the brightest of starts for either side for the first 20 minutes or so. In fact the best chance of the half. A Downing cross was headed back across goal and Cole (J)'s shpt was blocked in less than convincing manner by a defender.

So, with the game finely poised, we decided to give the visitors a head start. Or, more accurately, we and the referee decided to give them a head start. Demel had all the time in the world to deal with a loose ball but elected to knee the ball back to JJ. Demel got nowhere near enough on the ball and Oscar nipped in.

Having got far too much on the ball the Brazilian cheat threw himself at JJ in a dive so obvious and blatant that only an incompetent or a corrupt ref could possibly have given it. Unfortunately, as we now see every week, PGMOL only employ the incompetent and the corrupt and Foy wastedd no time in pointing to the spot.

Foy realised he'd been conned, as evidenced by his failure to issue either a yellow or a red card for the so-called offence. On the touchline Mourinho's claim for a red was as embarrassing as his team's reluctance to stay on their feet. Lampard dispatched the penalty as the name of "A Ref" went to the top of the visitors' assist list for the season.

Of course as we saw against Norwich, at the moment the second we get a crap decision against us we fall to pieces. Where the passing had been reasonably accurate before it went to pieces as once more we made an average side look a lot better than they actually are.

It was therefore no surprise when the lead was doubled on 33 minutes. Collins who had been all over the place all evening, went walkabout again leaving Oscar on his own. Slipping as he shot, the diver's effort crept in at the post to put us 2-0 down.

Something had to be done, though most of us thought that it ws probably already too late. With 39 played, a mere six minutes before the break, we made an unprecedented double swap. Off came Cole (J) and Collison and on came Maiga and Diame. Little changed.

Eto'o cut in from the left an hit a curling effort that JJ saved well, the save being spectacular but more comfortable than it looked. We had a brief moment of lightness as a clever run out of defence lifted spirits before he ran out of space and support and the ball was cleared to safety. That was about it for the half.

Belated Upton Girlie birthday cakes were distributed during the interval, something that in retrospect probably represented the high point of a pretty dispiriting day.

Half Time: West Ham United 0 Chelsea 2

The second half started with a bit of hope as Downing, who had looked dangerous on the few occasions anyone had been bothered to actually give him the ball swung a dangerous cross in from the left. Miaga came close to getting something on it but the ball flew harmlessly by the far post.

Diame had a couple of efforts from the right of the box, one without enough power to cause a problem and the other with neither power nor direction. However it was all pretty desultory stuff and there was a feeling that it would only be a matter of time before we gave something away.

Noble was on hand to clear a Cahill header off the line, Eto'o's push on JJ being ignored by the ref who then ignored another foul on Downing up the other end. As play went on Morrison fed Noble who was in promising position 20 yards out but such is the lack of confidence in the side at present Noble elected to play the ball out wide, a pass that was easily cut out.

Oscar should have made it three on 55 minutes, his attempt at a shot at the far post screwing wide. Meanwhile, as Cech came out for a rare corner, having pushed everyone out of the way he was rather generously given a free-kick despite his being the sole agressor and getting a clean punch on the ball.

Diame then managed to make some room for himself on the left, his shot deflecting up for Maiga to make an audacious attempt at an overhead kick, unfortunately not getting enough on the ball to trouble the 'keeper.

On 64, if there had been any lingering doubt that this was not to be our day, it was dispelled once and for all. A Downing effort was blocked and went out wide to Demel who found himself penned in by the corner flag. Demel did brilliantly to leave three players for dead and played the ball across the face of goal. It hit Maiga before he'd even realised that the ball was there and screwed off just the wrong side of the post. A goal there and who knows. You've got to take them though.

The diving returned as the fat one went to ground when Morrison looked at him in a funny way. Nothing came of the free-kick though. So Oscar went down again. Foy bought it again. Fatty hit it straight at the wall.

Then came a collector's item Nolan was actually substituted. Without being injured. No, really he was, Jarvis came on to replace the skipper whose contribution had, I suppose, been just as influential as anyone else's. Unfortunately.

The final flattery for the visitors came with nine minutes left. A blocked shot came to Lampard who fired in from the edge of the box. Another collector's item as it hadn't come from a free-kick awarded for a dive and hadn't been going wide before being deflected in. He may have scored another like that but nobody can remember.

Of course he went off on the badge-kissing exercise that tells you everything you need to know about him. I often wonder what would have happened to him had a certain journo not taken pity on him a few years ago when observing a certain incident. He certainly wouldn't have got 100 caps, that's for sure.

That was about it really. The STB put the visiting support to shame. I leapt up in agony with a touch of cramp, indicating that I'd probably put more effort into the game than many of our players had. The sponsors gave Diame MOTM, possibly attributing to him Demel's run for Maiga's miss. Ba put the ball away but was offside and Cech punched one away - and that was yer lot.

Full Time: West Ham United 0 Chelsea 3

It's all very well having referees give opponents goals as happened yet again here. However, until someone does something about the dreadful state of officiating in the Premier League we're lumbered with what we've got. So the sooner someone finds a way of stopping us collapsing every time there's a refereeing mess-up the better.

Referees are so poor these days that maybe we ought to take it for granted that they're going to stitch us up and just get on with trying to equalise first. It's something that we have to sort out now. Fulham next week will do please. In the meantime, I guess there's always the cricket.


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Player Ratings

Jussi Jaaskelainen
Made some decent saves. I suppose if he'd stayed on his feet we'd just have seen Oscar booked as he ought to have been anyway but it's a bit harsh to blame him for a rather tawdry bit of cheating by an opponent.

Guy Demel
A good run in the second half but it was his blunder that allowed Oscar's dive to take place.

Joey O Brien
A bit all over the place and his distribution wasn't up to much today.

James Collins
Oh dear.

James Tomkins
The best of the defenders, not that that was saying much.

Mark Noble
Work hard enough but had a frustrating evening and ended up down too many blind alleys for my liking.

Jack Collison
Looked all at sea until withdrawn before half time.

Stewart Downing
Looked good occasionally when we fed him. We didn't feed him enough.

Joe Cole
Had one (blocked) shot but failed to make any significant contribution up to the point he was replaced.

Ravel Morrison
Some bright runs but they were few and far between.

Kevin Nolan
Can't remember anything he did to be honest. Other than getting substituted. Which is fairly remarkable for him I suppose.


Mo Diame
Failed to take the match by the throat like last season. I guess the sponsors had to give an MOTM to someone but I'm struggling to think why it should be him. Or anyone.

Modibo Maiga
That miss will have done his confidence no good at all. Shame really as a goal then might have seen us get back into the game.

Matt Jarvis
Had pretty much the same effect as the man he replaced really.

Did not play.

George McCartney
Did not play.

Matthew Taylor
Did not play.

Carlton Cole
Did not play.

Match Facts

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.

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.

Referee: Chris Foy.

Attendance: 34,977.

Man of the Match: Jussi Jaaskelainen.