Chelsea put West Ham United under assault for 90 minutes at Stamford Bridge on Wednesday evening, but were left to rue a scoreless draw.
The Blues in turn remain in third place on the table, failing to capitalise on Arsenal’s stalemate the day before.
Following are five things learned about the west London outfit in their frustrating midweek outing.
Some days, the ball just won’t go in
In a shocking statistic that doesn’t take much expanding upon, Chelsea racked up 39 shots over the course of the encounter. A grand total of 29 key passes led to zero goals as the Blues threw the kitchen sink at a West Ham side determined to defend as deeply as possible. The hosts had their chances – Adrian denied John Terry and Frank Lampard at close range as Demba Ba hit the woodwork – but couldn’t get the ball in the back of the net. Chelsea have now scored once from their last 58 shots – having put one past Stoke last time out through 19 total efforts.
A top class striker could’ve changed the result
The Hammers were resolved at the back and clearly came out with a plan, but there were undeniably still ways through. Samuel Eto’o’s hat trick against Manchester United seemed to signal his reawakening, but despite the quality still left in his boots at 32 – he’s no longer the magical striker he once was. One can’t help but think that a dynamic, complete striker at the fore of Chelsea’s attack would’ve given the extra push necessary to break down West Ham. Without this type of presence the onus falls on the attacking midfielders, who – while supremely talented – can’t always be relied upon to supply moments of genius in front of goal.
Carroll got little over on Terry
There’s no doubting that John Terry is back in top form – and the best part for Chelsea is that he’s shown no signs of slowing down. Despite starting all 23 of the Blues’ Premier League contests, wear hasn’t shown itself for the 33-year-old talisman. Andy Carroll is a handful to take on physically but Terry relished the challenge, tangling with his countryman the few times West Ham got forward to nullify any threat. Of course, only a lovely save from Adrian kept him from getting on the scoresheet – something he’s already done twice this term in the Premier League.
Jose Mourinho got a taste of his own medicine
The Portuguese manager lambasted opposite number Sam Allardyce in a no-holds-barred rant after the final whistle for what he referred to as “19th century tactics”. Mourinho even threw in a Black and Decker reference – something it’s safe to say nobody could’ve ever foreseen as part of any post-match comments. The irony of the Chelsea boss accusing a counterpart of negative football is certainly not lost on most – such being something he’s been decried for repeatedly down the years. Sure, Mourinho’s teams have been greatly successful, but then again he’s always had far more talent at his disposal than Allardyce does currently at Upton Park.
An opportunity lost
Anti-football, profligacy and world class finishers aside, the draw against West Ham is plainly a setback that Chelsea didn’t need. The title race is only hotting up and the opportunity to draw level with Arsenal – staying just a point behind Manchester City – was one that had to be taken. Mourinho’s men face the dreaded trip to the Etihad on Monday – City having laid utter waste to all comers at Eastlands to date – and a loss there would see them six points off the pace for the Premier League crown when it could’ve been a more manageable four.
image: © tpower1978