Chelsea prosper where West Ham fail at Stamford Bridge
Premier League champions take their chances while Hammers waste theirs
West Ham slipped to the bottom of the Premier League after a battling 3-0 defeat to Chelsea at Stamford Bridge.
Frank Lampard, Fernando Torres and Florent Malouda were on target, leaving West Ham two points off safety.
There is no doubt Chelsea were not at their best in what were extremely testing conditions, but West Ham were a match for the Premier League champions and were extremely unfortunate not to leave Stamford Bridge with a point.
Unlike the defeats against Aston Villa and Bolton of previous weeks, the Hammers looked dangerous and created chances, but when it mattered most faltered in front of goal, with substitute Robbie Keane’s miss from eight yards with Chelsea one ahead particularly costly.
The sprinklers were in fall action before kick off, but the pitch soon turned from slick to borderline waterlogged when a heavy storm took hold of west London.
The game started ominously when, after just two minutes Salomon Kalou turned Manuel da Costa too easily and with just Robert Green to beat fired straight at the Hammers captain.
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The torrential rain had engulfed Stamford Bridge was having a major impact on Chelsea’s ability string passes together.
Nevertheless the Blues were afforded too much space in the middle of the park, while lone striker Carlton Cole was far too isolated, often attempting to head long balls onto marker John Terry and collect the rebound.
This ploy failed to yield much success, but playing Jonathan Spector in central midfield did.
The American offers something different from many West Ham midfielders in so far as he actually pushes forward and supports the front men.
One such foray forward almost led to a goal after 26 minutes. An excellent run and cross from Freddie Sears found a diving Spector, but Petr Cech was on hand to tip the effort around the post.
West Ham were in the ascendency after a dodgy start, taking advantage of Chelsea’s poor passing to launch a number of promising counter attacks.
Sadly for the Hammers the final ball was often lacking, although Sears went close from a Mark Noble after 31 minutes, but Cech was again on hand to save smartly.
The half seemed to be petering out, but West Ham lost concentration for just a moment and were punished.
Ashley Cole got the wrong side of Lars Jacobsen and his low ball into the box was smashed home by former Hammer Frank Lampard.
The rain continued to fall and the Hammer continued to play well. Just seven minutes into the second period a Hitzlsperger corner was met by da Costa and it needed a gaol line clearance from Mikel to keep the hosts’ lead.
Chelsea responded and twice should have extended their advantage but no touch could be added to Didier Drogba’s whipped crosses into the area, while David Luiz rattled Green’s crossbar with a rasping effort after 68 minutes.
West Ham then proceeded to waste a golden chance to get level.
Keane, on for the injured Mark Noble, was played through delightfully by Spector but with just Cech to beat fired wide of the post when it looked easier to score.
The game opened up and Chelsea almost made the game safe with 10 minutes left. Lampard seemed to foul Spector but after being allowed to play on found substitute Fernando Torres. His first time ball found Nicola Anelka and although his first time effort beat Greem Daniel Gabbidon was on hand to head off the line.
They didn’t have to wait much longer for the second or Torres’ first Chelsea goal. The Spaniard broke forward and although the pitch slowed his progress, the former Liverpool hitman turned and smashed the ball into the corner.
More woe was to follow for the Hammers when deep into injury time the ever dangerous Florent Malouda powered an effort into the roof of the net from the edge of the area.