Chelsea 2nd Half Chances
Chelsea immediately went back onto the front foot after West Ham’s equalising goal. A shot by Eden Hazard in the 64th minute was well saved by Jaaskelainen with the rebound falling to Torres but his effort was weak and straight at the keeper. A moment later a free kick by Mata struck the side of the post, one of the few second half moments when Mata was involved. His influence waned when West Ham pressed and increased the tempo of the game.
One moment stood out in the second half. Mata collected the ball in the centre of the pitch and was immediately closed down by Diame who won the ball and launched a West Ham attack. The time and space was no longer on offer. Chelsea continued to see more of the ball and overall they enjoyed nearly 58% possession compared to the hosts 42% but the second goal would not arrive.
As the game appeared to be heading for stalemate, another West Ham throw in on the left reaped dividend.
Somewhat inexplicably, Mikel was marking Cole around 3 or 4 yards deeper than the remainder of the defence. As players moved back, Cole passed to the edge of the box where the unmarked Diame fired low past Cech.
The game’s final goal also involved Diame. He pursued Ashley Cole which led to a sloppy pass from the left back. A player of Cole’s experience and quality should have known better than knocking a sideways pass when under pressure. Taylor and Maiga combined with the final goal.
The Impact of Benitez
With two goalless draws and a derby defeat in his short time at Chelsea already, Benitez is doing little to enamour himself to a set of supporters, many of whom don’t want to see him at the club anyway.
With only a few training sessions with his new squad given the number of games that are scheduled, a situation that is unlikely to alter in the short term either with the World Club Championship looming on the horizon, Benitez has little time to instigate meaningful change.
The small changes that Benitez has implemented are already visible within the Chelsea team. During his tenure at Valencia and Liverpool, Benitez could often be seeing on the sidelines clasping his hands together in an exaggerated motion. The significance? His hands were compact and together and he expects his team to operate in the same way.
The standard 4-2-3-1 which Chelsea operated under Di Matteo remains in position but in the defensive phase of the game it becomes a 4-4-1-1 with the wingers, on Saturday being Hazard and Moses, expected to drop deep and undertake their share of defensive duties.
In the short term it means attacking guile will be sacrificed until the defensive frailties are addressed.
West Ham continue to surprise in the Premier League. Whilst they were always likely to avoid relegation, their form has probably surpassed even their most ardent followers expectations. A word of caution could be appropriate. During his tenure at Bolton, Allardyce’s team occasionally went on a particularly barren spell of form at one stage of the season usually characterised by a run of defeats. If such an event happened at Upton Park, the points already gained win stand them in good stead.
Chelseahas now gone seven league games without a win. This is their longest barren spell since Glenn Hoddle in 1995. With suggestions that Avram Grant could make a return to Stamford Bridge in a consultative role, pressure is only going to continue to mount on Benitez until he can get a few wins under his belt whilst somehow attempting to resurrect the stalled career of Fernando Torres in the process.
The squad has issues which need to be addressed in January but the process of short term managers and an owner seemingly involved in the acquisition policy of the club is only going to sustain the uncertainty and structural imbalance.
All of the stats from this article have been taken from the Opta Stats Centre at EPLIndex.com – Subscribe Now (Includes author privileges!) Check out our new Top Stats feature on the Stats Centre which allows you to compare all players in the league & read about new additions to the stats centre.