Thursday, March 5

Stick your blue flag up your…

West Ham 0 Chelsea 1

It’s surprisingly easy to get served in Ken’s Cafe an hour before kick-off, with Matt and Lisa opting for isotonic cheesy chips and Michael the Whovian Playwright, who doesn’t normally eat in the evenings, opting for just the one big breakfast. Matt is still smarting from the cancellation of Billericay FC’s league fixture on Monday night. Fraser is away attending a Creative writing class on police procedure, presumably checking on how to arrest West Ham’s post-Christmas decline.

Meanwhile news comes through that the slightly injured Song is on the bench and Kevin Nolan is back in the side. We must be doing badly, as there’s talk of how we need Kev’s leadership.

Costa scoops over early on, but then West Ham have a good spell and come right back into the game, with Noble excelling in midfield. Reid has to go off early though, with a tweaked calf muscle, and is replaced by the Ginger Pele. West Ham win a corner and Courtois has to rush from his line to block Kouyate’s shot.

Terry is outpaced by Valencia and earns a booking for a cynical pullback reminiscent of an elderly nightclub bouncer. Kouyate then prods the ball across the Chelsea box and Sakho goes for the ball with his wrong foot as the chance disappears. Zouma has to go off for treatment after a clash with Kouyate and the Chelsea fans are regaled by a chant of “You won’t let him on the train!”

Just as we’re in the middle of a really good spell, Chelsea break and the classy Hazard finds Ramires on the right. Collins steps up to play offside but no decision is given and the unmarked Hazard heads home on 22 minutes. It’s rather like Kevin Nolan’s disallowed ‘goal’ at Man United. There’s not much in it, but the replays suggest the Chelsea man is just offside.

Shortly after the goal the late Mystic Morris arrives, protesting about the District line. It’s nearly two for Chelsea when Costa is through on goal but Jenkinson gets back to make a fantastic tackle. If he’d timed it wrong it would have been a penalty and a red card. We’re still creating chances though. At the other end Jenkinson gets in a superb cross and Sakho heads it down, only to be thwarted by a decent save from Courtois. Diafra really should have scored.

West Ham reallygo at Chelsea in the second half, even though Matt’s positivism only lasts 22 second before his first expletive. Kouyate makes the first of several surging runs from midfield and finds Sakho, who turns to slice wide.

“Don’t put this in your blog, but Nolan is in danger of being the man of the match,” suggests Nigel. Bizarrely, he’s right. The West Ham captain has been much more involved than usual, playing sensible balls, getting in tackles and organising the midfield against the likely Champions.

Downing is having a storming second half on the left and after his run and cross Sakho prods towards goal, Courtois parries and Nolan just fails to score in a big goalmouth scramble. Chelsea break quickly and Ramires shoots against Adrian’s post and the ball rebounds into the keeper’s arms. A good game for the neutral, if there are any, as “Stick your blue flag up your arse!” rings round Upton Park.

Adrian then has to make a fine save from Ramires’ header. Downing finds Sakho with a good through ball on the left and the West Ham striker, experiencing an off night, shoots against the keeper. Valencia’s shot is spilled by Courtois and Cahill has to make a saving tackle to prevent Sakho scoring.

Kouyate makes a fantastic run from the half way line, plays the ball to Sakho and is body checked on the edge of the box by John Terry.  Referee Andre Marriner, who has performed like a man in fear of the wrath of Mourinho all night, is fooled by Terry falling to the ground clutching his head and elects not to give the Chelsea captain a second yellow. The Bobby Moore Stand is reduced to the withering criticism of, “We want Mark Clattenberg!” surely the most unlikely chant ever to be heard at a Premier League ground.

Chelsea almost get a second as Cresswell clears off the line and West Ham have a penalty claim for handball ignored and Sakho heads a Downing cross over. Chelsea seem to block everything and celebrate at the end like it was this gritty performance that has won them the league. We’ve pushed them to the limit, but it’s another good performance without points.

We retreat to the Central where the TVs are off, but there is the entertainment of seeing backpackers ushered to their rooms (“But I thought it was the Central hotel? Where is Oxford Street?”) There’s even some bottles of Old Speckled Hen as we discuss if Costa is the ugliest player in the league (Michael thinks he is). 

This was much better than the Palace game and we’ve played well against all the top sides at Upton Park. Surely our luck is going to turn soon?

PLAYER RATINGS: Adrian 6; Jenkinson 7, Reid 5 (Collins 6), Tomkins 6, Cresswell 7; Nolan 7, Noble 7, Kouyate 8 (Nene 5), Downing 7; Sakho 5, Valencia 6.


matt said...

MOTD proved their goal was definitely offside. If that happened against Chelsea, it would be headline news all week, with much talk of the alleged "conspiracy" against them. As it is, the MOTD pundits just said, it was offside, but let's talk about Eden Hazard's less offside contributions instead. Bias all round.

Pete May said...

Indeed, Mourinho would have wanted half an hour on Sky if that was scored against Chelsea.

mj said...

By the way, had anyone asked, I would have accepted 10th before the season started and I'll accept it for next season as well!!