Chelsea faced West Ham at Stamford Bridge on Boxing Day, in what promised to be a cracker of a game- the league leaders taking on their high flying visitors, who, almost halfway into the season, were sitting pretty at 4th place. The players delivered, with Chelsea going full throttle on a seemingly bewildered West Ham side.
The game started off with a scare for the Chelsea faithful, as Eden Hazard clattered away from a retreating Stewart Downing and into Cheikhou Kouyaté. The Belgian star had only just gotten back from injury and seeing him fall to the ground for a couple of minutes, scared the onlookers who later learnt that nothing was majotly wrong, and so the game continued.
Chelsea started brightly and were looking sharp, with Oscar missing a great chance in the 5th minute. With both full backs (Azpilicueta and Ivanovic) flying high in support, Willlian delivered a fantastic ball in for his Brazilian teammate who chose to shoot, the ball flying over the post.
West Ham launched a few quick counter attacks of their own, but striker Andy Carroll looked completely at sea against a resolute Chelsea back 4 guarded by the imposing Nemanja Matic. Enner Valencia’s smart runs yielded nothing.
Gary Cahill came mighty close to giving the Blues the lead in the 27th minute, but his effort off a Fabregas corner, was soiled by Adrian, the West Ham stopper. Chelsea were knocking on the door and soon enough they burst in- John Terry the captain guiding a Diego Costa header off a Fabregas corner. It was a long time coming and Chelsea finally had their deserved lead.
The Blues looked imposing against a struggling Hammers defence and Matic and Diego Costa both came close to doubling Chelsea’s lead, minutes after the opening goal had been scored- missing by inches as West Ham thanked their stars. Costa looked particularly threatening, knocking players left right and center with supreme athleticism but unable to score.
Towards the end of the 1st half a minor scuffle broke out when Ivanovic was brought down by Andy Caroll in the box. The resulting penalty appeal was denied and the Serbian protesting heavily, to the irritation of the West Ham players, particularly Adrian, who chose to make his anger known by handling the Chelsea player. Luckily, nothing resulted from this and the game went on.
In the 2nd half, Chelsea resumed where they had left off- 73% possession in the first 10 minutes after the break. A good couple of chances came their way, with Hazard unlucky to have his shot deflected off the post.
West Ham tried to liven things up a bit and keep Chelsea quiet by twin substitutions , bringing on Alex Song and Diafra Sakho. The duo could only watch, however, as Chelsea proceeded to double their lead in the 62nd minute . A Kayoute mistake led to Hazard taking advantage of the situation and giving the ball to Diego Costa, who beat three West Ham players and the keeper to score a fantastic goal from afar.
Almost instantly, the Hammers responded, with Thibaut Courtois making a couple of great brilliant save after a fantastic counter attack by the visiting side.
Chelsea showed no signs of slowing down after the goal- with Eden Hazard playing a great cross from left to right to the path of the onrushing Ivanovic, who dropped in another beauty to Diego Costa. Costa though, too spent from the run, shot it over. More Chelsea brilliance followed- Oscar had a superb free kick tipped over by Adrian, and the Cahill shot from the resulting corner was only blocked by a swarm of West Ham players in the box.
Gradually, after a lot of missed chances, Chelsea seemed to take the foot off the pedal. With Mourinho seemingly content with the result, he opted to bring on Drogba and Mikel in a twin substitution meant to kill the game, with Ramires also coming on later for a tired Willian.
Morgan Amalfitano had a couple of chances in the dying moments to secure a consolation goal for the visitors but this just wasn’t their day. The match was sealed 2-0 in favour of the league leaders, who their stretched their lead to 6 points, prior to second placed Manchester City’s kickoff against WBA later on the same day. A comprehensive performance, and a deserved victory for the Blues. West Ham brought back down to earth.