Chelsea 0-1 West Ham United
A GOAL FROM AARON CRESSWELL shortly after the break was enough for West Ham United to end their recent wretched run and stun high-flying Chelsea in a fascinating clash at Stamford Bridge.
West Ham headed across the capital off the back of a disastrous seven-match winless sequence which had seen them plummet within touching distance of the relegation zone and ramped up the pressure, and indeed speculation, over the future of manager, Manuel Pellegrini.
“We never talk about the future,” the Hammers chief explained ahead of the game.
“You must be clear, it is game by game. It is the same question you asked when we were winning, football changes every game so we are working to beat Chelsea and improve.
“I always think about the present, never the future.”
The beleaguered Chilean made four changes to that of the starting line-up which had faced Tottenham seven days previous. Sebastien Haller dropped to the bench, but most notably, calamitous goalkeeper, Roberto, was left out – 33-year-old David Martin, son of former Hammers defender, Alvin, making his Premier League debut between the posts for the east Londoners.
And the goalkeeping change appeared to have made a difference as West Ham looked a whole lot more solid during the opening 45 minutes. Pedro’s close-range effort was blocked following a swift raid down the left involving Emerson, while Mason Mount tested Martin’s resolve from twenty-yards as Chelsea started the brighter. In between, Michail Antonio – another recalled to the starting eleven – was unable to divert goalwards after Cresswell had picked him out.
But unsurprisingly, it was Chelsea who were asking the majority of the questions. Christian Pulisic perhaps should have done better, nodding over from close range, then Martin clung on after Pedro’s volley had bounced viciously off the turf.
Martin rode his luck, looking on as Reece James’ deflected cross came back off the outside of an upright – Kurt Zouma heading the resulting flag-kick wide of the mark. Nevertheless, Antonio’s threat was made further apparent when Kepa was forced into a flying save to keep the scoreline blank after the Hammers wide man had powerfully headed towards the bottom corner of the Blues net.
Martin again came to the Hammers rescue – palming away from Mateo Kovacic, while Pulisic was a whisker away from a telling touch as Chelsea continued to press ahead of the interval.
West Ham had offered very little going forward during the opening period, but within three minutes of the restart, they stunned the home side by taking the lead. Cresswell cut in from the left before curling accurately beyond Kepa, much to the delight of the Hammers contingent behind the goal.
This was a different West Ham to the one those fans had witnessed of late. Kepa brilliantly denied both Fabian Balbuena and Antonio following troublesome corners from Robert Snodgrass.
Chelsea boss, Frank Lampard, was clearly agitated with his side – N’Golo Kante and Willian were thrown into the fray. Meanwhile, a lengthy VAR check denied West Ham a second after Antonio appeared to bundle home at the far post with his hand.
It was a case of ‘all hands to the pump’ for West Ham in the final stages of the contest. Substitute, Willian, was thwarted, while James and Pulisic fired over as Chelsea desperately searched for a way back into the game. But it was all to no avail. West Ham held firm to record their first victory at Chelsea since 2002 and pick up three points for the first time since Manchester United were beaten at the London Stadium in early September.
Debutant keeper, Martin, raced to the press box on the final whistle to embrace his equally emotional father. To their enormous credit, Chelsea supporters in the vicinity showed their respect with warm applause.
West Ham United return to Premier League action on Wednesday, December 4 when they take on Wolverhampton Wanderers at Molineux (7:30pm). The Hammers then face Arsenal at the London Stadium on Monday, December 9 (8pm).
Chelsea: Kepa Arrizabalaga, Jorginho (Capt) (N’Golo Kante 63’), Pedro (Willian 63’), Kurt Zouma, Mateo Kovacic, Olivier Giroud (Callum Hudson-Odoi 71’), Mason Mount, Christian Pulisic, Reece James, Fikayo Tamori, Emerson Subs not used: Willy Caballero (GK), Andreas Christensen, Michy Batshuayi, Cesar Azpilicueta
West Ham United: David Martin, Aaron Cresswell, Fabian Balbuena, Felipe Anderson (Andriy Yarmolenko 71’), Robert Snodgrass, Mark Noble (Capt), Pablo Fornals (Arthur Masuaku 83’), Angelo Ogbonna, Ryan Fredericks, Michail Antonio (Sebastien Haller 76’), Declan Rice Subs not used: Roberto (GK), Pablo Zabaleta, Carlos Sanchez, Albian Ajeti
Booked: Pablo Fornals (foul), Andriy Yarmolenko (foul), Aaron Cresswell (time-wasting)
Goals: Aaron Cresswell 48’
Referee: Jonathan Moss
Assistants: Marc Perry and Eddie Smart
Fourth Official: Stephen Martin
Reaction to follow….