Saturday 20 October 2018

Chelsea drop their first points of the season after goalless stalemate at West Ham

LONDON, ENGLAND - SEPTEMBER 23: Eden Hazard of Chelsea is tackled by Declan Rice of West Ham United during the Premier League match between West Ham United and Chelsea FC at London Stadium on September 23, 2018 in London, United Kingdom. (Photo by Dean Mouhtaropoulos/Getty Images)
LONDON, ENGLAND - SEPTEMBER 23: Eden Hazard of Chelsea is tackled by Declan Rice of West Ham United during the Premier League match between West Ham United and Chelsea FC at London Stadium on September 23, 2018 in London, United Kingdom. (Photo by Dean Mouhtaropoulos/Getty Images)

Andy Sims

Chelsea's perfect start to the season came to a halt as they were held to a goalless draw at West Ham.

Maurizio Sarri's side were looking to join Liverpool at the top of the Premier League on 18 points after six games, but they were denied by a resilient and enterprising display from their derby hosts.

Not even Eden Hazard, back in the side after being rested in Europe in midweek, could find a way to break the deadlock.

Indeed it was West Ham who could, and probably should, have taken all three points after creating by far the clearer chances.

The Hammers were barely recognisable from the shambles of their first four matches, now playing with more than a hint of shape and organisation as well as with plenty of attacking intent.

They did so without injured forward Marko Arnautovic, who has been directly involved in four of their five goals so far this season.

The Austrian also scored the winner when Chelsea made the trip from west to east London last season.

In his place was Michail Antonio, and the two best chances of the first half fell to the former Nottingham Forest man.

On the half-hour Felipe Anderson neatly skipped past Cesar Azpilicueta before slipping the ball through to Antonio, who skied his shot from a tight angle.

Moments later Andriy Yarmolenko jinked his way into the area and the ball broke for Antonio again.

This time he was denied by a point-blank save from Chelsea goalkeeper Kepa Arrizabalaga with his thigh at the near post.

Chelsea had otherwise dominated possession in the first half but created very little with it, Hazard and Olivier Giroud forcing routine saves from Lukasz Fabianski and Willian firing wide.

As the interval approached Hazard fed Willian who touched the ball back across goal for N'Golo Kante, but the Frenchman glanced his header the wrong side of the far post.

After the break West Ham continued to frustrate Chelsea, while Yarmolenko curled a shot narrowly over.

Sarri sent on Alvaro Morata who was straight into the action, denied by a crucial interception from Issa Diop as he went for Hazard's cute back-heel before seeing a close-range shot kept out by the face of Fabianski.

A groin injury to Antonio Rudiger prompted a first appearance of the season for Blues defender Gary Cahill, just two days after he admitted he may have to look for a move away in January.

West Ham's big opportunity to win it arrived 12 minutes from time when Robert Snodgrass looped in a cross but Yarmolenko somehow headed wide at the far post.

The face of Arnautovic in the stands said it all - it was a missed chance to claim a major scalp for Manuel Pellegrini's side.

At least Fabianski ensured they took a point, and did not lose a third straight home match, when he got his fingertips to Ross Barkley's late effort and pushed it wide.

Online Editors

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