West Ham United secured their first win under David Moyes in spectacular fashion in the London Derby against defending champions Chelsea.
Marko Arnautovic struck inside six minutes and the Austrian’s first goal for the club proved decisive for the hammers and lifted them level on points with 17th place West Bromwich Albion.
Chelsea remain third but miss out on an opportunity to make ground on the two Manchester clubs, who face each other in the Manchester Derby on Sunday.
Liverpool could also overleap them if they win by two or more goals in the Merseyside Derby tomorrow. Chelsea headed into this afternoon’s early kick-off with a seven-match unbeaten record, whereas West Ham had only won two in their first 15 league matches.
The hammers began the first half promisingly by deploying numerous players to press forward in the first five minutes. They reaped the rewards moments later when Michael Antonio cut inside, Arnautovic intelligently played a ‘give and go’ with Lanzini and applied a composed finish into the far bottom corner.
Arnautovic had come under scrutiny in recent weeks for his lacklustre performances, after failing to contribute to a single league goal since arriving from Stoke City for £20 million in July. His remarkable improvement in form coincided with West Ham’s first home victory since 30 September but could today prove the turning point for the hammers?
West Ham began the first half in a scintillating fashion with a high pressing system and a compact defensive set-up. They were rewarded for such a promising start when Marko Arnautovic netted his first goal for the hammers.
Antonio dragged the ball inside the right channel, Arnautovic played a ‘give and go’ with Lanzini to weave his way into the penalty area and then the Austrian applied a composed finish into the far bottom corner.
They were insistent on protecting their lead by compressing Chelsea in central areas with a compact set-up in the last two thirds of the pitch. Mark Noble and Pedro Obiang provided a barrier in front of their back-line, which mainly consisted of five players when Chelsea had possession in advanced positions.
This prevented the off-the-ball runs from Eden Hazard, who was unable to grab the game by the scruff of the neck in the first period. They isolated the important players which could unlock the key to goal with Fabregas, Bakayoko, Hazard and Morata unable to effectively have any involvement in the final third.
Although West Ham sat deeper after taking the lead inside six minutes, they ensure that they remained able to catch Chelsea on the counter-attack. They may have invited attacking pressure from Chelsea by playing deeper but it also denied the opportunity for the blues to play their trademark counter-attacking system.
Masuaku provided a menacing threat on the left channel with his driving runs, as it became evident that Davide Zappacosta was a weak link in Chelsea’s starting line-up. The Italian international lacked the physicality to deal with Frenchman and Lanzini, Antonio and Arnautovic were readily awaiting service for the 24-year-old to bring the ball into dangerous central areas.
Chelsea replaced Bakayoko with Pedro at the half-time interval with the aim of increasing their attacking presence. West Ham would now not only have to deal with the off-the-ball runs of Eden Hazard but also Pedro in the second half.
The visitors’ complacency in possession was simply embarrassing to watch. Gary Cahill was cheaply dispossessed and nearly gifted a goal scoring opportunity to the subsequently offside Arnautovic. Numerous passes were misplaced, which affected the flow of Chelsea’s attacking play and made it easier for West Ham to close down and exploit them.
Michael Antonio was the key to driving West Ham forward on the counter-attack but his role in the attack was physically demanding and he was clearly beginning to fatigue just past the hour-mark. Therefore, Diafra Sakho replaced goal scorer Marko Arnautovic with 20 minutes of normal time remaining. Antonio shifted out to the left hand side to accommodate Sakho in his accustomed centre forward role.
Alvaro Morata squandered arguably Chelsea’s biggest goal scoring opportunity of the afternoon. Kante carved his way through a crowd of West Ham players to find the Spaniard. Masuaku was caught sleeping and kept Morata onside but the former Real Madrid striker fired wide of the near post.
Conte had thrown on the likes of Pedro and Willian to increase the pressure on West Ham’s defence but they were unable to provide an equaliser. The blues continued to press until the final whistle but it was West Ham who would be crowned the winners of the London Derby!
Marco Arnautovic made a driving on-the-ball run into the penalty area until it was halted controversially by Andreas Christensen. The Danish international prevented the former Stoke City midfielder from advancing into the penalty area from the left hand side by stopping the ball with his trailing right arm.
It’s debatable whether his action was intentional but his right arm was clearly in an unnatural position, which means it should’ve 100% been a penalty kick to West Ham United. Referee Anthony Taylor also delayed his decision not to award the hosts a spot-kick, which is why I’m convinced that he was unsure about his final decision.
West Ham could count themselves lucky that they weren’t reduced to 10-men with just under five minutes of normal time remaining. Noble and Obiang both applied clattering challenges on Victor Moses that went unpunished.
Obiang was already carrying a yellow card to his name but although the challenge was relatively soft, we’ve seen players booked for similar fouls this season. Numerous West Ham players were playing on a tightrope with Reid, Cresswell and Obiang along with goalkeeper Adrian all receiving yellow cards.
Chelsea travel to the John Smith’s Stadium to face newly-promoted Huddersfield Town on Tuesday. They also have a relatively simplistic schedule over the festive period on paper with Southampton (H), Everton (A), Brighton & Hove Albion (H) and Stoke City (H) in the space of 14 days.
The tough fixtures are coming thick and fast for West Ham United and they host Arsenal next at the London Stadium on Wednesday. A trip to the Bet 365 stadium to play Stoke City follows and fixtures against fellow relegation strugglers Newcastle United, AFC Bournemouth and West Brom take place over the festive season, which could prove decisive to whether they remain in the English Premier League.