An Eden Hazard brace saw Chelsea sweep West Ham United aside and rise to third in the Premier League table at Stamford Bridge.
Chelsea’s early domination of the match certainly paid off, thanks to a bit of magic from Eden Hazard. The Belgium picked up the ball forty yards from goal, went straight through the middle of the West Ham side, beating four defenders on the way, before he finished perfectly by putting the ball past Lukasz Fabianski.
Chelsea could have doubled their lead soon after as Hazard played a magnificent pass to Gonzalo Higuaín but the Argentinian was only able to hit the frame of the West Ham United goal. West Ham almost dragged themselves level in the 51st minute though when Felipe Anderson played a delightful lofted-through ball to Marko Arnautovic. While the big Austrian was able to cut it back to the on-coming Manuel Lanzini, the Argentine telegraphed his shot, which was well saved by Kepa in the Chelsea goal.
Chelsea could have put the game to bed by the 63rd minute as chances for both Ruben Loftus-Cheek and Hazard were wasted as they both shot softly straight at Fabianski. The Blues had another to chance to finish the game off in the 85th minute when Ross Barkley broke away on the left wing – the substitute brilliantly played in Olivier Giroud, but the Frenchman’s shot was well saved by Fabianski.
Chelsea did finally finish the game off four minutes later; Ross Barkley received the ball on the edge of the box and lofted the ball over to Hazard, who was played onside by Aaron Cresswell. Hazard was able to take the ball down and power it into the bottom left-hand corner of the West Ham goal given Chelsea all three points.
Another advertisement for VAR
Eden Hazard in the 30th minute was blatantly shoved over by Marko Arnautovic yet referee Chris Kavanagh decided against giving the spot kick. Kavanagh had a near perfect view of the challenge and still got the decision wrong – if VAR was in use then the decision would have undoubtedly gone Chelsea’s way and if the Blues had then scored the penalty it would have put them 2-0 up and probably killed the game off in the first half.
West Ham also could have had a penalty given if VAR was in operation as Robert Snodgrass was tackled late by Cesar Azpilicueta. This tackle, however, was slightly harder to spot then Chelsea’s but if given and scored, it would have seen the game go to 1-1 going in the last 30 mins.
Although VAR is a topic that continues to cause controversy, it is needed immediately. The Premier League was once widely seen as the best league in the world but it is now being left behind and one reason for this is due to the poor officiating we are seeing week in week out.
West Ham set for bottom half again?
West Ham have had an odd season to say the least. They lost their first four games of the season, leading some fans to think they could be relegated. However, the Hammers then seemed to find their form and were in the running for Europa League football. But after squandering four chances to go seventh, their season is set to have an underwhelming end.
West Ham have endured a massive amount of injuries this season which is a reason behind Manuel Pellegrini’s failure to push the Hammers up the league. Their away-form is cause for concern though and they have not scored from open play away from home since Southampton in December. They have also only picked up one point on the road since the turn of the year.
If West Ham are to fulfill their potential then another summer of investment is needed. Pellegrini still needs some more players to get the best from his side. The Chilean manager also needs to clear some of the deadwood out of the club that might be upsetting the dressing room. *Cough* Arnautovic *Cough*.
Chelsea keep up in the race for Europe
Chelsea, like West Ham, have also been having a strange season. A good start was followed by an awful run of form, but now they are third in the league and have made it into the quarter-final of the Europa League.
New manager Mauricio Sarri has received a huge amount of criticism this season for his style of football – ‘Sarri-ball’. Chelsea fans have been chanting against him and players have out-rightly disobeyed orders on the pitch with Kepa infamously refusing to come off in the League Cup final. Sarri however, has led Chelsea to a domestic cup final and there is potential for a victory in a European competition as well as a top-four finish. Surely, if Sarri achieves this then maybe Sarri-ball can work.
Hazard shows his class
One of the best individual performances of the season by far. Eden Hazard was everywhere and was rewarded with two brilliant goals with the first being a goal of the season contender after an amazing solo effort. The Belgium was a constant creative threat and was unlucky not to pick up an assist after he played in Loftus-Cheek during the second half.
Hazard showed why he is considered one of, if not the best player in the Premier League against West Ham. The Hammers actually defended well during the match, but once Hazard got his head down there was no stopping him.
Man of the Match: Eden Hazard
Hazard was a class above everyone else on the pitch. The Belgian scored two great goals and ultimately was the reason Chelsea won the match.
Next up Chelsea travel to Slavia Prague for their Europa League Quarter-final before facing Liverpool at Anfield on Sunday. West Ham however travel to Old Trafford to take on Manchester United in the Premier League.