West Ham 2 Chelsea 1 reaction: Six things we learnt from Upton Park

Andy Carroll for England?

Tom Sheen
Saturday 24 October 2015 17:14
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Andy Carroll heads home the winner
Andy Carroll heads home the winner

The pressure grows on out of luck Mourinho

Chelsea were not actually that bad at West Ham. But sections of the support and media already appear to have him on the way out of the door after the latest setback of a truly dreadful start to the season.

But if one or two things had swung the right way for Chelsea then they would have won. The first was the Cesc Fabregas offside decision that was clearly wrong. It was very tight and hard to tell in real time but the Spaniard was definitely in an onside position and his goal should have been given.

Chelsea almost scored another and had the ball travelled another inch they would have done - that's as tight as a goal-line decision as you are ever likely to see.

Nemanja Matic is an experienced international. No way should he be risking a second booking so soon after his first - it's hard to see how a red card from a player of Matic's stature can be blamed on Mourinho.

There has also been suggestion that Mourinho has lost the dressing room, we obviously don't know if that's true but the way the Chelsea players started the second half proved that they were still fighting for their manager and their personal pride. The Blues did brilliantly to get back into the game before a tired clearance from John Terry and a superb Andy Carroll header cost them.

Having said that...

Mourinho doesn't half make his own problems worse. Trying to enter the referees' dressing room at half-time is not allowed and will get you sent off. Chelsea were without their leader in the second half and that surely meant mixed messages to his staff when trying to implement tactical changes and substitutions.

Not speaking to the media (and therefore the fans) after the match is the latest petty reaction in a season full of them. Everybody wants to hear his thoughts on the match and bypassing that completely does nothing to help matters.

Zouma struggles

Dmitri Payet is one of the form players in the Premier League right now and he clearly enjoyed going up against Zouma, who looked lost at right-back.

The powerful Zouma is clearly an excellent defender but too often he was bamboozled by Payet, who drifted inside and out throughout the match.

Zouma was also a non-factor when Chelsea were on the attack with a couple of crosses sailing way over the head of Diego Costa - the kind of cross you would expect a raw centre-back to put in. Baba Rahman still has a long way to go but the team looked much more balanced last week against a clearly inferior, it must be said, Aston Villa team than it has against Dynamo Kiev and now West Ham.

Kouyate wins the midfield battle

This game featured two endlessly energetic midfield dynamos in the middle of midfield, Ramires and Kouyate - one was bought for £18m and the other for £5.75m.

But if you were to look at the performances today - and over the previous 18 months - it's clear that Ramires is playing well below what Chelsea paid for him and Kouyate is a player worth much more than that fee.

Ramires always works hard and wins the ball back well. Kouyate also does those things, but unlike Ramires he is able to carry the ball deep into opposition territory and find a pass when it's needed.

That Chelsea had to turn to John Obi Mikel at half-time also tells you everything you need to know about the squad depth in certain positions.

West Ham are here to stay

Slaven Bilic has built a really excellent team and a place in the top 6 is becoming a more and more realistic target as each week passes. They are built on an excellent defensive foundation with one of the better goalkeepers in the Premier League, the most consistent left-back in the division and a pair of no-nonsense centre-backs.

In front of them sits Mark Noble, an extremely underrated midfielder and the dynamic Kouyate (they also have Alex Song due back from injury soon). Dmitri Payet is the signing of the summer and should be playing for a Champions League club, while the likes of Miguel Lanzini, Mauro Zarate and Victor Moses can interchange between games without any real drop off in quality.

They also have options up front. Diafra Sakho is a great worker, Enner Valencia is a speed demon and Andy Carroll is a handful on his day.

Not only does Slaven Bilic have a strong starting line-up, he also has a strong squad.

Just ask Arsenal, Liverpool, Manchester City and now Chelsea.

Are you watching, Roy?

There were at least four Englishman in the West Ham side that Roy Hodgson simply has to take a look at in his next England squad. England have so few options at left-back right now that Kieran Gibbs, a man with no starts and only 18 minutes of Premier League football this season, started against Lithuania. Aaron Cresswell is better than him right now.

James Tomkins has hardly the most eye-pleasing style but, as above, he is a no-nonsense throwback who is rarely beaten. Mark Noble seems to be forever overlooked and now 28 it seems his ship may have sailed. But, like Michael Carrick, his is a style that seems made for international football. He's not especially physical or dynamic but he excels at keeping possession.

Then there's Andy Carroll. These kind of moments come few and far between these days but when they come, those feelings of what might have been come flooding back.

There is not a defender in world football who would want to deal with Carroll in that kind of mood.

Picking an England squad is, surely, not about picking the 23 best English players available. It should be about picking a team of players that offer Hodgson different tactical choices.

England's current set of fowards - bar Wayne Rooney and perhaps Harry Kane - all appear to be cut from the same cloth, they are fast, play on the shoulder of the last man and look for others to provide them service.

But in an international tournament if that style of player has already been shown to be ineffective, why not turn to someone in Carroll's style?

The West Ham man has obvious, glaring flaws. But he could still be very useful for the Three Lions in a pinch.

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