Sport Soccer

Thursday 26 April 2018

Mourinho's homework pays off as Chelsea pile pressure on Hammers

West Ham United 0 Chelsea 3

Gerry Cox

JOSE Mourinho's marine haircut was perhaps a sign he meant business, having had two weeks to mull over a narrow squeak against West Bromwich Albion and defeat at Newcastle.

There was no margin for error against a West Ham side who had won 3-0 at Tottenham, but are fighting for their Premier League lives.

Shorn on top and short on players during the international break, Mourinho spent his fortnight plotting West Ham's downfall in minute detail.

It might be fanciful to picture Mourinho sending out his dogs of war to eliminate his enemies, but there was a ruthless efficiency about Chelsea as they hunted down their prey.

The result was evident after 20 minutes as the home side conceded a soft penalty. Frank Lampard dispatched it mercilessly, his first league goal since the opening day of the season and then killed off his former club and their jeering supporters with Chelsea's third in the closing stages as they moved to share second place with Liverpool.

DOMINATED

"We knew we had to win this game because of the focus on us going into it. Our away form has not been good enough," the England midfielder said. "It was a complete performance. We dominated from the start, showed great intent and won it pretty comfortably."

Lampard pointed to the effort put in by flair players such as Eden Hazard and Oscar, who scored Chelsea's second goal.

"It's very enjoyable playing in a performance like that, when there is such work rate from the team, players like Oscar and Hazard up front, working with and without the ball."

Mourinho, who complained before the game that he had only four first-team players in training the previous fortnight, expanded on the theme, detailing how he changed style from the defeats at Newcastle and Everton:

"In those matches we had lots of space to play but we couldn't be aggressive enough to score the first goal and make it difficult for our opponents.

"This was different. Sometimes you change because you study the opponent.

"I didn't have players to work with for 15 days, so I had time to study a lot, because I had nothing to do. I watched West Ham, I watched and I watched, and I tried to identify what they could do against us.

"I saw every game of West Ham, who have a certain style of play. We knew it was very important to cope with the first long ball and the second ball. We had a good game and everything went well for us."

RELEGATION

West Ham, by contrast, were poor and are now above the relegation zone on goal difference alone.

This was the seventh time in 12 league games that they had failed to score – an obvious worry for Sam Allardyce, who still has no idea when Andy Carroll may be fit.

West Ham gambled when they spent so much of their transfer budget in signing Carroll for £15m in June. He has not played since. "I know one thing that would change our dynamic," Allardyce said.

"That's Andy Carroll. But I can't have him. We went for four top strikers in the summer but didn't get them. Andy was due back three weeks into the season, but he is still out."

West Ham face fellow strugglers Fulham and Crystal Palace in their next two games.

"I never expected to have lost four home games already," Allardyce said.

"I have got a massive dilemma over how to turn that round. Last season's home form was the reason that we finished 10th. Losing four at home is why we are tinkering with the bottom four in the league now." (© Daily Telegraph, London)

Irish Independent

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