Carlo Ancelotti's men pour more misery on struggling Hammers...
West Ham United can have no-one else to blame but themselves for their 3-1 defeat to Chelsea on Saturday, as a dire first half performance proved the difference between the two sides, despite Avram Grant's side producing a spirited display after the break.From the outset it was a case of top versus bottom and a team who has won all three of their opening games versus a team who had lost all of their opening games so it was fair to say that Chelsea were clear favourites against West Ham, and they did not disappoint.
With just two minutes on the clock, Brazilian midfielder Ramires, who was earning his full debut, won a corner off Scott Parker that Didier Drogba swung in towards an unmarked Michael Essien to head home.
The most worrying aspect from a West Ham point of view is that they were not playing with any enthusiasm or desire, it could have been a testimonial match from the pace they played at, and it was only a matter of time before Chelsea made it 2-0, and Salomon Kalou did just that after 18 minutes.
Another Drogba set piece, this time from a free kick, was spilled by West Ham goalkeeper Robert Green, and despite Matthew Upson being the quickest to react, his clearance rebounded straight off Salomon Kalou and looped over both Upson and Green into the back of the net.
Straight from the resulting kick-off and Kalou came close once again, with Green attempting to redeem himself with a decent save from the forward's effort from the edge of the area, with the East Londoners' diamond formation playing completely into Ancelotti's men's hands.
Nearing the break, West Ham seemed to realise that they were playing in a competitive game and had a couple of half-chances.
First, a clever chip from Carlton Cole found debutant Victor Obinna in space inside the area but the Nigerian's side-foot volley was steered a yard wide. This was followed by the confident Obinna cutting in from the left but again firing narrowly wide.
But whatever West Ham could do, Chelsea could do better… well nearly. Jon Obi Mikel pounced on a cleared corner and let fly with a stinging 30-yard shot with just the angle of the post and bar denying the midfielder a tremendous goal.
Carlton Cole did put the ball in the back of the net on the stroke of half-time but he timed his run narrowly too early, and was correctly ruled offside. Not the luck a side a who hadn't won against Chelsea since May 2003 needs.
West Ham came out after the break a much better team, not that they were setting the bar very high in the first half, with clever intricate passing working well through the Chelsea midfield and only the Premier League leader's well organised defence proving a hurdle too far for Avram Grant’s charges.
The Hammers continued their dominance as the match entered the final quarter, with second-half substitute Kieran Dyer coming close with a dipping free-kick.
Chelsea’s second-half chances were few and far between, but with 70 minutes on the clock, a Green save kept his side in with as his sprawling save from Drogba kept Chelsea at bay.
Green could not keep out the powerful Michael Essien though. As the clock entered the final 10 minutes, the powerful Ghanaian rose high again to put the game fully to bed and to take Chelsea four points clear at the top of the Premier League.
West Ham did hit back immediately though, with Petr Cech punching away a corner only for captain Scott Parker to loft the ball first-time over everyone’s head and into the far corner.
It turned out to be just a consolation in the end though, and as Chelsea continue their fine run of four wins out of four, West Ham and Avram Grant have a lot of work to do to turn around their own run of form. Their second half performance was far better, and perhaps something to hold onto and give them hope.