Sport Soccer

Monday 26 September 2016

5 things we learned from Chelsea's victory over West Ham

Published 15/08/2016 | 22:46

New Chelsea manager Antonio Conte enjoyed a winning start
New Chelsea manager Antonio Conte enjoyed a winning start

Chelsea's 2-1 win over West Ham completed the opening round of Premier League fixtures.

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Here, Press Association Sport examines five things we learned from the Stamford Bridge clash.

1. Costa still likes a moan

The FA's crackdown on aggression towards referees always seemed likely to spell trouble for Diego Costa. The Chelsea striker took less than 20 minutes to talk his way into Anthony Taylor's book as he complained about the official's decision not to award Oscar a penalty. Costa's style of play and attitude to the game have barely altered since he arrived in England two years ago and he could end up serving a fair few suspensions this season if he fails to adapt to the new initiative. He later showed his worth by claiming the winning goal but he could have been sent off following a foul on Hammers goalkeeper Adrian.

2. Dive-iding opinion

Diving, simulation, whatever you want to call it; it is a subject which will not go away. Oscar was the man at the centre of Monday's incident when he theatrically fell to the ground inside the 18-yard box after knocking the ball beyond West Ham defender Winston Reid. Referee Taylor chose neither to book the Brazilian nor point to the penalty spot, allowing play to continue. A number of pundits subsequently suggested a foul should have been given but the way in which the attacking midfielder went down more than hinted he was looking for the penalty.

3. Not a fab start for Cesc

Cesc Fabregas played just shy of 50 games in both of his first two seasons at Stamford Bridge but that did not stop new boss Antonio Conte leaving the Spanish World Cup winner twiddling his thumbs on the bench. Big-money signing N'Golo Kante and Nemanja Matic were preferred in the centre of midfield with Oscar operating in the more advanced role behind Costa. It remains to be seen whether Fabregas' exclusion was a one-off or if he is set to endure plenty of frustration in the near future. One thing is certain, Conte, like his predecessor Jose Mourinho, is not afraid to upset big personalities.

4. Antonio out of position

Michail Antonio won plenty of plaudits for his performances during his first year with West Ham and was tipped as an outsider for England's Euro 2016 squad. Regardless of that, the former Nottingham Forest man is not a full-back. It was his mistake which led to the opening goal as he foolishly tried to dribble the ball out from the back before barging Cesar Azpilicueta in the back inside the 18-yard box. Slaven Bilic reacted quickly to the error by bringing on natural right-back Sam Byram five minutes after the spot-kick and it would seem unlikely that the substituted Antonio will be filling a defensive berth again any time soon.

5. Hazard hasn't lost it

The subject of plenty of criticism last season, Eden Hazard was without doubt Chelsea's brightest spark, particularly in the first half. He looked hungry, fit and ready to contribute much more than the four Premier League goals he managed in 2015/16. It took him until April to get himself on the scoresheet in what was a forgettable campaign for Chelsea but he is already up and running this time around after being gifted the opportunity by the clumsiness of Antonio. Yes, it was only a penalty but his overall play deserved a goal and, having broken his duck so early, he should be able to return to his fine form of two years ago.

Press Association

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