Chelsea led twice but were beaten 3-2 by West Ham in the Premier League on Saturday.
The first half ebbed and flowed with one team briefly on top then the other. There were few clear chances until the deadlock was broken just before the half-hour mark - then it was almost a goal every time either side attacked, resulting in Chelsea leading at the break.
Thiago Silva first headed in off a corner, then made a great block moments later to deny Vladimir Coufal an equaliser. The Hammers were gifted a route back in after Jorginho’s pass to his goalkeeper was a little underhit, Edouard Mendy hesitated in possession and then brought down Jarrod Bowen who was fastest to react. Manuel Lanzini fired home the penalty, but Mason Mount restored the away side’s lead with a first-time volley before the break.
After the restart Jarrod Bowen rifled in a second equaliser for the Hammers, before almost netting a second on the stretch with 15 minutes to play - but 10 minutes later West Ham did take the lead for the first time, Arthur Masuaku’s deflected cross flying in at the near post for an unexpected winner.
Here are five things we learned from the game at London Stadium.
Hammers switch systems
David Moyes opted for another tactical change, flipping to a back three to effectively match up Chelsea’s usual approach. It worked in spells from a defensive standpoint, but not so much going forward until a change at the break to drop one of the front three more into midfield.
Given a couple of player absences and the fact they were playing the league leaders, this was another impressive show of flexibility and surity from Moyes’ men, everyone knowing their roles and being able to change tack when required in-game.
The Hammers have played Liverpool, Man City and Chelsea - the top three - in the space of a month and have taken six points from those games, well as a positive overall goal difference. Fourth place is very much theirs to hold.
Ruben taking chances
In the side again as Thomas Tuchel battles injuries in midfield, Ruben Loftus-Cheek can be very pleased with most of his performance.
This was his fifth Premier League start of the campaign - 18/19 was the last season he started as many for his parent club.
In attack he took up very good positions, the more offensive-placed of the duo in Chelsea’s midfield, with several smart passes, turns and dribbles to show what he’s capable of. So too did he work hard defensively, covering more than once behind his defence and being reliable on set-pieces.
But still, Tuchel demands everything and more, and the suspicion must be that the manager will point to the late West Ham winner and Loftus-Cheek’s failure to close down quickly or effectively enough, the cross looping in off his boot on the stretch.
One concern for Moyes was another couple of defenders going down with injuries. They have already lost Angelo Ogbonna, most likely for the season, and fellow centre-back Kurt Zouma went off here with an apparent hamstring injury.
Ben Johnson, impressive on both sides of defence recently, also departed early through injury - with Aaron Cresswell already absent in that role.
West Ham have a fine squad and some reasonable depth, but lots of their consistency this year has been built on a frequent XI being in place. That’s a new challenge to juggle and perhaps the first hints of needing to consider a move in the January market.
A season’s first
Chelsea had the league’s best defence heading into the game; now they have only the second-best after Man City. Conceding at a rate of one every other game, just about, remains fine proof of their cohesion and consistency at the back - but this game was a notable outlier.
This was the first match in any competition that Tuchel’s side had conceded twice in the 90 minutes - the last time they did so was a pre-season game against Spurs in August, or more properly, away to Aston Villa in May. Conceding three is almost an unheard of event under Tuchel, other than that crazy 5-2 defeat to West Brom in April last season.
There were other chances for their hosts to add another, too: Coufal’s effort cleared near the line by Thiago, Tomas Soucek with a header or two off-target and Bowen sending one wide from close-range on the stretch.
Title advantage to rivals?
The Blues remain top after this defeat, but it might only be for a matter of hours. Liverpool head to Wolves and Man City are at Watford later in the day - wins for either will see a change at the top.
No real evidence can be taken in isolation from any single fixture or result, but an overarching truth of the modern Premier League is that teams don’t get too many chances to drop points and still claim the title. This is just one more of Chelsea’s opportunities now having fallen by the wayside.
On a slightly longer timeline, it’s just two wins in five for Tuchel’s outfit who need to find consistency quickly over the busy festive period.
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