West Ham earn deserved draw against high-flying Chelsea
PUBLISHED: 15:40 23 September 2018 | UPDATED: 15:40 23 September 2018
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The Hammers hold the Blues in London derby showdown by Yarmolenko miss will haunt them
West Ham United 0 Chelsea 0
Piece by piece, little by little, step by step, the Hammers continue to get their campaign back on track.
This gritty goalless draw against unbeaten, high-flying Chelsea at the London Stadium ensured that West Ham backed up last weekend’s wonderful win at Everton with another hard-fought point that ended the Blues 100% start to the season.
Indeed, with injured Marko Arnautović absent with a knee injury, the East End could have been forgiven for fearing the worst against a Chelsea side that was looking to dish out six of the best after five straight league victories.
Undaunted, West Ham improvised without their talismanic Austrian attacker as Michail Antonio stepped into the breach to halt any ideas that the Blues harboured of marching back to the top of the table.
Right from the off, Maurizio Sarri’s men knew that they had a game on their hands and, with just five minutes on the clock, Andriy Yarmolenko sent a low right-wing cross skidding across the saturated, Stratford surface but the slip-sliding Pedro Obiang could not steer the ball home from eight yards.
Shortly afterwards, another free-flowing Hammers move saw Pablo Zabaleta pop up in the right corner but the red-faced Argentinian could only look into the murky East End skies after mis-kicking into touch.
While West Ham had struggled to get their season into gear, Chelsea had made the perfect start to their campaign and, having made it a straight half-dozen victories with a Europa League win at PAOK Salonika on Thursday night, they made five changes from the side that had triumphed in Greece as skipper César Azpilicueta, David Luiz, Eden Hazard, Mateo Kovačić and Olivier Giroud came in for Andreas Christensen and Pedro plus substitutes Davide Zappacosta, Ross Barkley and Álvaro Morata.
And after Giroud prodded meekly to Lukasz Fabianski, Antonio Rüdiger forced the Pole into a low save with an ambitious 30-yard grasscutter before Hazard then tested the Hammers ‘keeper from closer range.
At the other end, Felipe Anderson was thwarted by Luiz at the expense of West Ham’s first corner of the afternoon and, when the Brazilian’s consequent flag-kick eventually fell to Mark Noble, the skipper’s 20-yard volley drifted well wide of the target.
As the half-hour mark approached, Anderson invited Antonio to race behind Rüdiger but as Kepa Arrizabalaga narrowed the angle, the Hammers striker blazed over the top and, seconds later, Yarmolenko – also taking turns for a shift upfront - muscled his way into the visitors’ area before crossing into the near post but, this time, the £71.6million, Blues ‘keeper denied Antonio with his feet.
Although Chelsea had looked dangerous on the break – with N’Golo Kanté nodding wide in the closing moments of the half – an equally energetic West Ham left at the interval knowing that they had been passing with pace and poise in an evenly-matched derby.
The Hammers carried on from where they had left off after the restart with Kanté soon being booked for body-checking Anderson, before Yarmolenko tickled the roof of the net with a dipping 20-yarder.
In a Brazilian-on-Brazilian assault, Anderson was also yellow-carded for felling Willian, who then floated over an enticing corner that fellow-compatriot Luiz headed high into his own supporters in a passage of play that was more Copacabana than Cockney.
Midway through the half, both managers switched attacking options with Lucas Pérez coming on for Antonio and Giroud retiring in place of Morata, who quickly prodded an eight-yarder into the face on an out-rushing Fabianski.
Rüdiger also hobbled away as Gary Cahill entered the fray before Robert Snodgrass came on for Anderson and, within minutes of his arrival, the Scottish substitute whipped over an inch-perfect left-wing cross that the unmarked Yarmolenko incredibly nodded wide of the right-hand upright from just six yards.
Kanté was equally wasteful after Willian outpaced Zabaleta before squaring towards the penalty spot and, with five minutes remaining, Carlos Sánchez came on for the industrious Noble, who left to a standing ovation from everyone Claret and Blue in the crowd of 56,875.
In stoppage time, substitute Barkley let fly with an angled 20-yarder that Fabianski acrobatically clawed away from the baseof his left-hand upright and, in the dying seconds, an anonymous Hazard sent another effort into the clutches of the defiant Pole, who ensured that the Hammers collected a richly-deserved and confidence-boosting first home point of the season.
HAMMERS: Fabianski, Zabaleta, Masuaku, Balbuena, Diop, Obiang, Noble (Sánchez 85), Rice, Yarmolenko, Anderson (Snodgrass 73), Antonio (Peréz 64). Unused subs: Adrián, Cresswell, Ogbonna, Fredericks.
BLUES: Arrizabalaga, Azpilicueta, Alonso, Rüdiger (Cahill 69), Luiz, Jorginho, Willian, Kanté, Kovačić (Barkley 79), Hazard, Giroud (Morata 64). Unused subs: Caballero, Fàbregas, Moses, Zappacosta.
Booked: Kanté (49), Anderson (52), Snodgrass (90+2).
Referee: Mike Dean