David Moyes’ West Ham United scored a vital point in their bid to maintain their Premier League status this season away at Stamford Bridge on Sunday afternoon, drawing with Antonio Conte’s Chelsea thanks to a late Javier Hernandez equaliser, here’s Five Main Talking Points from the first London derby.
Chicharito Comes Off Bench To Rescue Key Point On Irons Return
Sunday’s point for the Hammers was not only significant in continuing their impressive record in London derbies and against the PL’s top-six sides this campaign, but also moving them a full six points clear of the relegation zone and they only have one man to thank for it.
Fox in the box Javier Hernandez was returning to the matchday squad for Moyes after an illness he picked up away on International duty with Mexico kept him out of last weekend’s relegation six-pointer win over Southampton.
Although others were preferred from the start, Chicharito was keen to make an impact when introduced with 20 minutes to play and did that very thing having been on the field for no more than three minutes when he levelled the scores for West Ham.
Holding the ball up nicely in the Blues half at the start of the move, Mexico’s all-time leading goal-scorer got himself in position and eventually profited, drilling a Marko Arnautovic ball home from just inside the area and celebrating wildly with the visiting Claret & Blue Army.
The ex-Manchester United star now has eight club goals for the term and is sneaking up on Arnautovic after the Austrian overtook him in the East London club’s Golden Boot race last weekend, now fit and firing, “The Little Pea” is set to play a key role over the term’s conclusion.
Arnautovic Continues Hot Streak With Assist For Leveller
The red-hot form of the aforementioned Austria International Arnautovic would continue in West London over the weekend, as he added yet another assist to his impressive tally for club and country over the last few months.
With the Irons chasing the game with just under 20 minutes to play, the former Inter Milan man found himself on the end of a long ball from captain Mark Noble after Gary Cahill’s failed clearance, bringing it down and assessing his options for a split-second.
What the attacker produced was something special, a low ball across the box in the turn and straight to the feet of Hernandez to smash past Thibaut Courtois, a moment of pure quality, albeit helped by some questionable defending from the home side.
All of the former Stoke City star’s four set-ups and nine league strikes this season have come in the reign of Moyes and since the start of December, making him the club’s form player and pushing him firmly into the Hammer of the Year reckoning.
Arnautovic’s only qualm about the stalemate would have been Chicharito cosying up to his none-goal tally, however, with a full six matches remaining, he will be feeling confident about getting into double figures and who would back against West Ham’s saviour finishing out as their top goal-scorer and goal-maker?
Scrappy Opener And Missed Chances For Blues As They Remember Ray
Fresh from the most recent London derby embarrassment at home to Tottenham Hotspur, many were expecting a fierce reaction from Conte’s Pensioners two days ago and they were left underwhelmed.
While the Blues did start the game brightly and on complexion, deserved to take the lead when they did with the number of chances they had created, when they did seize the advantage 10 from the break, it came in somewhat scrappy circumstances.
Eden Hazard’s corner delivery from the right was poorly dealt with by the Irons defiance and fell to Spanish full-back Cesar Azpilicueta, who swivelled and forced a tame effort goal-bound that somehow ended up beating both Aaron Cresswell and Joe Hart.
The West Londoners had a wealth of opportunities to build on this lead through the likes of front three Hazard, Alvaro Morata and Willian, but never took them, thanks in part to a show-stopping performance between the sticks from Hart, which we will get onto later.
However, in the grand scheme of things, the afternoon’s football played second fiddle to the remembrance of Chelsea and England legend Ray Wilkins, who sadly passed away at 51 last week, both sets of supporters observed two minutes of applause, one prior to kick-off and one in the eighth minute, amongst many other moving tributes remembering a man that was loved and adored by so many in the game.
Hammers Grimace Over Last-Gasp Penalty Claim
Fast forward to a frantic final ten minutes of action at the Bridge and both sides had late openings to steal the three points after the Hammers’ equaliser, but were the visitors cheated out of theirs’?
In the 86th minute of the keenly-contested matchup, Arnautovic broke hard on the stretched home backline on the counter-attack, having received a pass from Arthur Masuaku on the left side.
He had the beating of Cahill and danced towards the goal at great pace, at which point, home midfielder N’Golo Kante arrived on the scene to put in a challenge, appearing to nip away the ball in a tremendous last-ditch tackle for Courtois to collect.
But, replays showed that the 2016/2017 Premier League Player of the Season didn’t, in fact, touch the ball and it was the striker who moved it to one side, Kante instead catching Arnautovic and bringing him down, thus fouling him in the process.
The hosts were perhaps fortunate that referee Kevin Friend did not spot this, with mere minutes left and Noble, who has only failed to score from a single penalty in his PL career taking, the decision could well have denied Moyes’ boys a first victory at the Bridge since September 2002, thus turning the heat right up on Conte.
Hart Boosts World Cup Chances With Man Of The Match Display
With England assistant manager Steve Holland watching on from the stands in the capital, it was always going to be a big 90 minutes for away goalkeeper Hart after he kept his league place in front of Adrian San-Miguel.
Hart was coming into the match with confidence having kept out the Saints last weekend for a clean sheet, but before that failed to feature a single minute for his country in friendlies against the Netherlands and Italy, Jordan Pickford and Jack Butland preferred.
Faced with names such as Morata, Hazard and Willian to try to shutout, the task wasn’t going to be easy for the shot-stopper, who has been criticised and dropped for his form at times this season, with some remarking that he shouldn’t be anywhere near Gareth Southgate’s set-up.
Although, he was out to confound his critics and did that very thing on Sunday with a marvellous display of shot-stopping and domination in his box to win Man of the Match, despite picking up some critics for the role he played in Azpilicueta breaking the deadlock.
In total, the form man made five saves to keep his side in the game and ultimately, earn them the point, the pick of those being an 88th-minute wonder save to miraculously keep out a header from substitute Olivier Giroud, the keeper has rewarded the faith put back in him by Moyes and perhaps has a chance of boarding the plane to Russia after all.
So, now that everything there was to discuss from one of the better away days for Moyes’ West Ham this term has been well and truly covered, will there be yet more positive points to draw on come next Monday night? After Paul Lambert’s Potters have paid the London Stadium a league visit? Join us once again then to find out.