West Ham and Chelsea played to a grandstand finish at Stamford Bridge, with Maxwell Cornet’s last-minute goal being controversially ruled out by VAR. In the end, Chelsea won 2-1.
After a boring first half of football in which neither team got a shot on goal, the London derby got more exciting as tensions between the two teams grew. And the mood inside Stamford Bridge changed when Michail Antonio scored after Chelsea’s defense was bad for the 61st minute.
Ben Chilwell scored the equalizer, then set up Kai Havertz for the game-winning goal. Late in the game, Cornet scored the winner. But after some thought, the referee did a U-turn and said that the goal didn’t count. This made West Ham manager David Moyes very angry. Express Sport looks at five things that can be learned from what happened on Saturday.
VAR drama denies Hammers
David Moyes was furious on the sidelines as Thomas Tuchel praised VAR for giving his team the win. Things might have been different under different conditions and on a different day.
Jarrod Bowen and Edouard Mendy collided, but it looked like they barely touched. Still, it slowed down the Senegalese, and with 89 minutes left on the clock, Cornet scored into an empty net. West Ham was happy, but the referee cut their joy short by calling the goal back.
How important that could be for both teams’ seasons is still up in the air. But Chelsea and Tuchel will be happy that a VAR call went in their favor today. They have been on the wrong end of some questionable calls this season.
When Conor Gallagher didn’t play a forward pass after driving with the ball early in the first half, Thomas Tuchel jumped up and down in anger. The Chelsea manager was seen getting angry at the midfielder, who then turned around and made a safe pass.
£270m spent and no improvement
Even with all of Tuchel’s new signings and Todd Boehly’s help this summer, Chelsea fans felt like it was mostly the same old team. Even though they put a lot of money into their defense, they have a weak attack and more problems at the back.
After his team lost 2-1 to Southampton, Tuchel said that his team was “easy to play against.” That was supposed to be a rallying cry, not something they took to heart. He was just as mad at his team again. At one point, he was fuming at Conor Gallagher, and he hit the midfielder on the hour mark.
Before their second set piece, West Ham had barely been a threat to score. Edouard Mendy didn’t deal with the first pass, flapping it to Declan Rice’s feet. The defenders then messed around embarrassingly on the ground, which let Michail Antonio poke the ball in on the goal line.
It’s the fourth goal Chelsea has given up from a set piece this season, and the German still hasn’t found a way to stop it. Even though Kaildou Koulibaly has a lot of experience and Wesley Fofana cost £70 million, there doesn’t seem to be any improvement. Mendy’s poor play was also a big reason for this.
Tuchel did not hesitate to put Fofana in the middle of the action, even though the £70 million player had only trained with his new teammates once. “We gave it a lot of thought about whether or not to do it right away,” he said before the game.
“There were reasons not to do it, but in the end, he seemed like a cool guy who was fine with it and fit. I hope we can use his wildness in the back three and his spirit and first contact in the box to defend crosses and set pieces.
He asked for the ball whenever he wanted to and looked at ease with it. He galloped into midfield with the ball, showing good speed and a desire to move it forward quickly. On this show, there is a lot to show that they got a good return on their money.
Playing next to a world-class defender like Thiago Silva will only help him get better. In an interesting battle with Michail Antonio, the Brazilian put on another calm performance at the back.
Broja and Chilwell show up to attack without any teeth.
A penny for the thoughts of Armando Broja, who was benched just a day after signing a new six-year deal with the club. Since Havertz was taken off the team and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang was hurt, the Albanian player could be forgiven for wondering when he will get a chance to start and show what he can do.
The 20-year-old could only watch as his teammates had only three shots on goal in the first half, all of which missed the goal. The crowd was getting frustrated with the Blues’ lack of effort. Against a stubborn West Ham backline, Reece James’ inviting deliveries from the right were easily hoofed clear with not a blue shirt anywhere near the six-yard box — a place where Broja is always lurking.
When he was finally brought on in the second half, he caused problems for the West Ham backline right away. After giving up the goal, Tuchel brought on Ben Chilwell. Six minutes later, the left back calmly caught a long ball over the top and pushed it past Fabianski.
Then, in the 87th minute, he set up Havertz, who looked like he had something to prove, to score the game-winning goal. Tuchel will notice how much they want to do well, and their drive to make a difference will be important for the Blues in the end.
Rice shines once more
When Declan Rice plays like this, is it any wonder that Chelsea and Manchester United have been interested in him for a long time?
The 23-year-old patrolled the backline and closed off the space between Gallagher and the two forwards. He also stole passes and took the ball out of the back. Moyes, his boss, would have been used to seeing him play like that, and Tuchel would have taken note.
If he keeps playing so well even though West Ham is having trouble, it will only be a matter of time before he moves on to a bigger club. As of right now, the Hammers can thank their lucky stars that their captain is still carrying the weight of responsibility.