Chelsea 3 West Ham 0: Silva header and Abraham double get Blues back to winning ways and up to fifth in Premier League
FRANK LAMPARD must have wished the shortest day of the year could go on forever.
Chelsea ended their concerning dip in form by sweeping West Ham aside with a result that got better and better the longer the game went on.
Even if the performance overall was not quite the masterclass in attacking quality he wants, Chelsea’s boss can draw a line under the recent blip and now look forward to brighter days ahead.
After Thiago Silva’s tenth minute opener, they were on the back foot against West Ham until Tammy Abraham finally secured a first win in four games with a two goal blast in two minutes.
Relieved Lampard could then sit back and watch the clock tick down on the final ten minutes of a game which he hopes will reignite his team for the title challenge he insists they are incapable of mounting.
Victory only takes them to fifth spot but coming through with such a convincing scoreline from a mostly unconvincing performance will be enough to ease the nerves going into Christmas.
Lampard can at last take some time to concentrate on buying the present for his wife that he said had to take a back seat to getting back on track.
Yet despite a comfortable looking win – which is Lampard’s first as a manager against his old club – he might still do well to browse online for a little pick-me-up for his team while shopping for his missus.
For sandwiched in between Silva’s opening goal and Abraham’s brace was a bit of a mish mash in which the stubborn Hammers were the dominant force at Stamford Bridge.
West Ham are not the soft touch they have a reputation for being but even so Lampard must have wanted this tricky London derby sorted long before it was.
That looked on the cards when Silva scored with the clock only just hitting double figures.
The wily old centre half had been hiding behind the sizeable frame of his defensive partner Kurt Zouma when the ball came into the box from a corner.
Silva judged the flight of Mason Mount's ball with an expert eye and glided into view at just the right moment to give himself a free header from six yards.
It was in the back of the net before anyone from West Ham even knew he was there.
But there is a reason why Chelsea have found winning games comfortably hard to achieve lately.
Disruption to the team through injuries, particularly to scheming winger Hakim Ziyech has taken the edge of Chelsea’s undoubted ability when pouring forwards.
The return of Christian Pulisic from on-off hamstring problems is a boost but having been dogged by niggles since the FA Cup final in August, the American is not yet up to full steam.
Although there were flashes of his creative energy, especially in the first half when he carved out a chance from which Timo Werner should have scored Chelsea’s second and settled the game.
Having beaten centre half Angelo Ogbonna for pace in the chase for the ball, Pulisic slipped it wide to Werner on the left hand edge of the box with the nippy German at full steam.
One touch and a follow up shot would have done the business.
But Werner has been trying too hard to end his eight game barren run of late and consequently got his feet caught up in the ball.
He finished up dribbling a lame shot straight at Lukasz Fabianski who made an easy save with one outstretched foot.
From looking cool and in control for the first 20 or so minutes, Chelsea’s grip on the game began to slide as West Ham, no longer a pushover at grounds like this, forced their way back into the reckoning.
Declan Rice and Jarrod Bowen had goals ruled out, one for offside and the other for a foul. But they were signs that West Ham played on with a sense they could get something out of this game.
That feeling grew into the second half as Chelsea failed to pick up the baton from their one goal advantage and turn it into meaningful threats on the opposition.
It was quite the reverse as West Ham refused to panic.
And with workaholic Jarrod Bowen combining with midfield enforcer Tomas Soucek, Chelsea were on the back foot rather than taking the game to the other side in a bid to put the game to bed.
Two breaks in the final 12 minutes at last knocked the stuffing out of West Ham.
Abraham was played onside by Aaron Cresswell as Werner drove a shot at goal. The big centre forward was able to add the faintest of touches to beat Fabianksi and make it 2-0.
And in the 80th minute he picked up the scraps at the far post when West Ham failed to clear a cross.
Werner also hit the crossbar with three minutes to go as Chelsea were finally able to settle and play with confidence.
⚽ Read our Chelsea live blog for the very latest news from the Bridge
Source: Read Full Article