As 0-0 draws go, West Ham’s result against Chelsea could prove to be an invaluable point, in which they put in a solid defensive display.
It was important for the Hammers to get off the board at home, and the team did everything they could to ensure that they got something out of the game. Whilst not everyone would have enjoyed watching the game, there are very few people that can deny that it wasn’t a good result for Manuel Pellegrini’s side.
Again, given the options available to him, the manager got his selections and tactics spot on. It was never going to be easy up top, with Marko Arnautović and Chicharito both absent – but Pellegrini got it right in picking Michail Antonio to lead the line. The rest of the line-up was unchanged, which was a welcome sight, after the necessary chopping and changing in recent weeks. Perhaps, this formation and style of play could be the formula for success under the Chilean.
Analysing West Ham defensively
After putting in a much more assured performance against Everton last weekend, the Hammers defence were once again superb when Chelsea visited the London Stadium. Although the Blues had a couple of big chances, their best players were kept quiet for most of the game – and the West Ham backline deserves great credit for that.
Issa Diop and Fabían Balbuena were absolute rocks at the back, they limited Olivier Giroud to scraps here and then, whilst also stopping him from having any real impact in the air. The pair both stepped out of the centre of defence well on a number of occasions, with Balbuena having the confidence to charge forward and look to catch Sarri’s side out on the counter. Diop made seven interceptions in the game, and his partner at the back made an astonishing 12 interceptions. They also didn’t record a single foul between them, proving that they are becoming much more disciplined under Pellegrini.
It wasn’t just the defence that deserves to take all the plaudits, though. The midfield did an excellent job of keeping the Blues’ engine room and attacking midfielders quiet, with Declan Rice standing out once again. Eden Hazard surprisingly played very centrally throughout the match, even though most sides usually look to take advantage of the width at the London Stadium. That played right into Rice’s hands, who found it much easier to track the Chelsea number ten and prevent him from getting space around the box. Mark Noble and Pedro Obiang were also nuisances for the Chelsea midfield and did a good job of shutting down space and allowing the Blues to penetrate through the middle.
Analysing West Ham offensively
It wasn’t exactly a vintage attacking performance from the Hammers, but that is no surprise given that their main man was missing. Antonio did his best and ran his heart out, but he missed two huge chances in the first half, which you would have fancied Arnautović to slot home.
Andriy Yarmolenko was also guilty of missing a couple of fantastic opportunities – but at least he got himself into those areas. The Ukranian picks up some excellent positions when coming off the right wing in the final third. Yes, he needs to improve in other areas of the field – but let’s not forget that it was only his second start in the Premier League – and he is still getting used to football at this level. He is the better option and offers more of a threat than Robert Snodgrass.
Felipe Anderson’s performance was a bit of a strange one. Whilst he showed some brilliant movement with and without the ball, he gave away possession far too often. The winger does seem to have struck a nice relationship with Obiang just inside him, and the offensive Arthur Massuku just behind him. In the first half, the Brazilian had the better of César Azpilicueta and looked extremely lively. His second half display was not quite as impressive, given that Chelsea had most of the ball – but he is beginning to show much more promise than he did in his first few games.
This was a game that could have gone either way, so a draw was probably about right. The West Ham defence and midfield continue to grow and work together as a unit, which could prove to be a real catalyst for more positive results in the future. With Arnautović and Chicharito hopefully back in action before long, the two should slot in nicely to the new system Pellegrini is now using and will no doubt get themselves amongst the goals again.
One thing is for sure, the Hammers are in a much better place than they were just a couple of weeks ago and will go into the game against Manchester United this weekend, full of confidence and hungry for another encouraging result.