It was a miserable day for Frank Lampard, who watched on as the Hammers grabbed their first Premier League win at Stamford Bridge in 17 years. He also received a healthy dose of stick from the boisterous away fans, who marred their side's result with homophobic chants throughout. Lampard was unable to find a solution in the absence of the injured Tammy Abraham either, which threatens to develop into a worrying issue in the coming weeks. The Hammers faithful in the Shed End initially only stopped tormenting their former player with ironic cheers each time third choice goalkeeper Martin, son of Hammers legend Alvin, gathered the ball. Cries of “England’s No 1” greeted the 33-year-old, who did not have to be incredible to provide a significant boost to Manuel Pellegrini’s side through a combination of Chelsea’s lack of imagination in the final third and the low bar set by the hapless Roberto.
Martin was quickly summoned when Mason Mount, who shadowed Christian Pulisic’s run to pick up a lay-off, shot at goal but failed to strike it crisply, affording him an ideal touch to settle any lingering nerves. Despite growing in confidence, Martin never appeared entirely convincing, highlighted when he spilt Mateo Kovacic’s tame effort and then drew a sigh of relief when Reece James twisted and turned down the right before his deflected cross clattering the near post with Martin stranded.
Robert Snodgrass then composed himself on the counter, whipping the ball in with great pace from the right. And Michail Antonio muscled his way in front of James and only needed a glancing contact, but he failed to direct his header towards the corner, allowing Kepa Arrizabalaga to punch clear.
Outside the twinkle toes of Pulisic, the buccaneering James appeared to be the Blues’ best hope of an opener when afforded space to swing crosses into the admittedly rusty Olivier Giroud – making just his second start in the league all season. James’s cross just before the break dipped sharply into the path of the Frenchman, who incredulously ducked underneath it, leaving the unexpected Pulisic sprawling at the back post and unable to convert.
The first half was beginning to resemble a pattern at home for Lampard’s youthful side, who had won just three times in six league games entering this weekend, scoring only nine times. James was in the thick of the action after the restart too: another beautifully flighted cross saw Giroud close to connecting again as the ball dropped just in front of Martin. But after focusing on his time with the ball for the vast majority of the game, James found himself unable to untangle his legs to stop Aaron Cresswell on the overlap. The Hammers left-back cut inside and wrapped the ball neatly inside the far right corner with his wrong foot, cue delirium in the away end.
A frustrating afternoon for the hosts appeared to be compounded by Antonio at the back post bundling he ball home ahead of Kurt Zouma. But VAR came to Chelsea’s rescue, deeming Antonio to have cushioned the ball onto the post initially with his hand.
The home supporters appeared to wake up all of a sudden, buoyed further by the reintroduction of exciting talent Callum Hudson-Odoi following time out through injury. This is a team lacking spark at home with opponents finding them all too predictable; so Lampard’s decision to experiment with a false No 9 was welcome in the circumstances.
Pulisic therefore occupied the space between the base of the midfield and Fabian Balbuena and Angelo Ogbonna, who had enjoyed a comfortable afternoon to that point. The pressure naturally grew on the visitors though; but Hudson-Odoi and Willian, especially, routinely found claret when given time to cross – which seemed a hopeless task in the absence of Giroud or unused substitute Michy Batshuayi. Declan Rice appeared to relish the situation and later claimed to have had “the best day of my life”.
The England midfielder, up against his best friend Mount for the first time of their careers, not only shielded the back four superbly, but even surged clear at times to earn vital respite for his teammates.
There was to be one final opening for the Blues, who had failed to force Martin into making any meaningful saves. The Hammers gifted them an opening when they swarmed N’Golo Kante on the edge of the area, which allowed the Frenchman to shift it wide to the unmarked Pulisic. The American slashed his effort wide with the goal gaping, ensuring the visitors survived for three deserved points. If only the away side had revelled in the quality and resilience of their side, rather than repeatedly discriminating against their adversaries.
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