The saying “Football is a game of two halves “ could not be more appropriate when describing today’s pulsating London Derby. West Ham showed immense character following a poor first 45 minutes by rallying to inflict Chelsea’s first defeat under the management of Rafa Benitez. As much as West Ham played their part, it was the manner in which Chelsea collapsed that will leave a group of players with little or no confidence and immense concern amongst their fans. It’s now official – Chelsea are a club in crisis.
The Blues started the game looking refreshed, dominating in all aspects against a West Ham team who will need to set their alarms earlier next time they have a Noon kick off. Mikel and Ramires bossed the midfield, pitted against an out-of position Tomkins. They constantly set Hazard and Moses free to put pressure on the Hammers back line. Mata broke the deadlock on the fifteen minute mark. Torres (Yes Torres) did exceptionally well to get to the by-line and unselfishly lay on an inch perfect pass for his fellow Spaniard to slot home past Jaaskelainen’s outstretched hand. The Blues were rampant and maybe, having taken a couple of games to set a firmer foundation at the back, Benitez was ready to unleash some attacking creativity. The game should have been over by the break. Moses, Hazard, Torres and Mata all had scoring chances yet all failed to finish. The inability to close a game has become a feature of “this“ Chelsea side. Couple that with a soft centre and fourth place will be a struggle.
Sam Alladyce rang the changes at half time to great effect. Massive Sam, as he will be known in points East after today, gave the team amphetamine -laced Oranges and bought on Diame and Maiga to bolster the ineffectual midfield. It wasn’t long before Carlton Cole leveled the match by muscling Ivanovich and heading low just inside the post. Complaints ignored, the goal was given. West Ham were a team possessed. Chelsea needed superb blocks from Ivanovich and Cahill to still keep them ahead . Although in truth, even at this early stage, it felt like Chelsea were hanging on for dear life. Goals by the two Hammers’ substitutes in the latter stages (Diami probably deserving the “Man-of the Match “ award) had the Blues at sixes and sevens. The Final Whistle couldn’t come quickly enough for the Chelsea Faithful.
Sam Alladyce, whose resume is improving again, shook hands with a bewildered Rafa. He should definitely be keeping his lucky Movember moustache till Christmas.
This defeat leaves Chelsea at their lowest ebb for many years. You need to go back to the early 90’s to find as poor a run of form. It will be Abramovich who will be feeling the fans’ disappointment from this point. It is too early to blame Benitez for the State of the Union. A likely exit from the Champions League next week will only frustrate the current situation. It will be no easy fix now; the side’s confidence appears shattered. When Terry returns (the sooner the better) he may provide some stabilizing influence. But, let’s not forget, JT is in his twilight so Rafa must think about buying an outfield general who could capably wear the armband.