Chelsea moved back into 3rd place in the Premiership by “slaughtering” their East-end rivals at Stamford Bridge.
The scoreline does not fairly reflect the one side nature of today’s Derby match, mainly because Chelsea squandered a hatful of chances.
Having said that, the game will be remembered for the right reasons. A sensational performance by Eden Hazard and Super Frankie Lampard racking up his 200th Chelsea goal.
The Belgian turned the West Ham defense inside out today. James Collins, the Hammer’s defender, started the match with a Black eye and completed the set by being substituted due to dizziness from Hazard’s endeavors. Juan Mata played an Oscar-worthy “best supporting role ” in today’s exhibition match.
Chelsea looked every bit like Champions of Europe at the Bridge today.
Rafa put out an attacking formation. Rightly Lampard led the troops against his old team as JT dropped to the bench. As we have discussed on numerous occasions this season, these two elder statesmen and alternating Captains should not appear at the same time in our current strongest line-ups. Moses replaced Oscar in the triumvirate. The attacking Azpilicueta kept Ivanovich on ice, and Benitez went for the Luis/Cahill combo in the middle.
Fat Sam didn’t have Rafa’s luxury of a full squad to choose from. Kevin Nolan and Mark Noble are still both injured and the West Ham midfield has a makeshift look about it. The commentators breathed a sigh of relief when Alladyce also left Chelsea old boys Carlton and Joe on the bench avoiding having three Coles on the pitch at the same time !
The game started with the Blues full of confidence from recent strong performances. They had the added incentive of making both Man.City and Spurs pay for losing their earlier games.
Chelsea quickly created openings as the Mata- Hazard show got underway. Co-incidentally it was the 50th game of the season for both of them.
In the end Demba Ba would have more chances to score than George Clooney at his High School reunion. The Senegalese is feeling the heat associated with being Chelsea’s first choice striker, and it’s getting the better of him. Torres had a wry smile on his face as he sat in the 3rd row of the subs bench.
Jaaskelainen in the West Ham goal had an inspired afternoon. Losing 2-0 will never feel good but he certainly was West Ham’s best player and kept the spectacle alive for the 90 mins.
The home crowd had to wait until the 18th minute for the Blues to break the deadlock. Eden Hazard set up Frank Lampard to head home his double century. Super Frank could well have gone on to break Bobby Tambling’s club record of 202 goals before the final whistle today, save for him catching a chill from Demba Ba.
The Hammers nearly evened the match a couple of minutes later, when Andy Carroll, who had a good game controlling the Stamford Bridge air-space, had his goal disallowed. He was ruled to have shoved David Luis in the back to access the chance. Football is in danger of becoming a no-contact sport. After the slightest of touches, too many players seem to collapse like marionettes after having their strings cut. Not sure how I would have felt if the situation was reversed.
There was a little tomfoolery midway through the first half as Howard Webb today’s 4th Official was required to act. JT responded to taunting from the Hammers’ Faithful by loosely disguising a Moonie as a warm up stretch. He was within touching distance of them. He wasn’t blowing bubbles either. Mr. Webb soon diffused the situation moving Terry towards the home fans.
For the remainder of the First half it was one way traffic. Moses, Mata, Luis and of course Demba Ba had makeable chances but all failed to convert.
Azpilicueta should also be highlighted for his performance today. He not only provided a great attacking foil for Chelsea’s right side but when West Ham did on occasion threaten, his defensive qualities were equally as strong. He is quickly becoming the complete package.
The first 45 was up and the crowd applauded with gusto.
Chelsea returned from the break with the same intensity. Within a few minutes they doubled the lead. Eden Hazard after some stunning one-touch trickery with Mata, broke into the box firing an unstoppable drive to Jaaskelainen’s left. A candidate for Blues’ goal of the season.
Once the Blues had established a cushion they were content to play possession football meaning the game lost some momentum. Benitez swapped Moses for Oscar and Mata for Mikel just to make doubly sure we didn’t give up a 2-nil lead for the 4th time this season.
JT also made an appearance when David Luis was withdrawn after taking a knock. This was probably purely cautionary for Luis as he has he doesn’t want to jeopardize his place in the National team against Russia in the upcoming game at the Bridge.
It was a great performance by the Blues today, it continues our recent revival and has the fans excited for the packed program which follows the International break.
Up to 3rd, only 4 points behind Man.City. Let’s just hope goal difference doesn’t become a factor and we rue today’s chance to score a bucket load.
p.s Arsenal, get back in your box!