Thursday, October 27

Fernandes gives Chelsea the blues…

West Ham United 2 Chelsea 1 (EFL Cup)

Outside the stadium there are bizarre messages on the big screen informing us about “post-match egress”. 

“It’s as if the stadium signage has been written by Boris Johnson,” suggests Matt. 

Wordsmith Lisa says egress means exit. And later it turns out some fans have perhaps misread the instructions and been a bit too egress-ive.

Then it’s time to shift Steve the Cornish Postman’s ticket as Roz from Laindon who is inside the stadium uses her mobile to direct myself and her partner’s son Dean to a rendezvous outside Gate H in a race against time reminscent of Hunted.

It’s the best atmosphere we’ve had in the London Stadium as West Ham kick off against a strong Chelsea side. The away fans chant “Your ground’s too big for you!” Noble clatters into his first tackle and Kante fires too close to Randolph, but West Ham’s strikerless formation is soon causing Chelsea’s back three all sorts of problems.

West Ham take the lead after 11 minutes. A Payet corner is headed clear, Mark Noble plays it back in from the left and Cheikhou Kouyate rises above Terry to power home a fantastic header from the edge of the area. We’ve started with real intensity.

Lanzini’s run finds Payet having a decent shout for a penalty as Antonio fires wide from the melee. Then Randolph has to be alert to tip over Chalobah’s rising shot.

Strange things are happening on the screens. Fraser wonders why the big screens are telling us to, “Stand up if you love the darts.” Surely that’s banned? And then we spot an advert that has misspelled accommodation.

Antonio is excellent, turning David Luiz and setting up Lanzini who pokes wastefully wide. Terry has to foul Antonio yet again and Payet has a whipped free kick tipped away by Begovic. Then Obiang unleashes a thunderous effort that Begovic saves at full-stretch. "Can we play you very week?" ask the crowd.

Willian looks dangerous at times though and Chelsea should equalise as Batshuayi fires over and Oscar prods wide before the break. But West Ham are deservedly winning and it’s been a great first half. The whole side has performed well, Noble has played like the game really means something to him, and it’s much more like the team that turned out at at Upton Park last season.

There’s not much to moan about at half-time as Nigel munches an executive box-style prawn sandwich and then his lucky banana. Michael’s using his theatrical away season ticket so I text to tell him the first act has been staged very successfully with Antonio outstanding.

The second half sees the Hammers running at Chelsea again. Antonio beats Luiz and plays in Payet whose shot is blocked by Begovic. Noble manages to recycle the ball to Edimilson Fernandes on the right, who steps inside a defender to fire low into the corner with his left foot. The London Stadium erupts. Seems like our ground’s too big for Chelsea now. Nigel suggests that there’s something in the air tonight, Fernandes.

For the first time the whole stadium seems to sing as one in a chorus of, “Stick your blue flag up your arse!”

Payet and Antonio break again and Noble fires wide at the end of the move. A worried Conte brings on Hazard and pantomime villain Diego Costa. Willian slices wide after being set up by Costa and Hazard hits the bar as Chelsea try to save the tie. But the Irons still threaten on the break and sub Andre Ayew heads just wide from a superb Payet cross.

Costa slices wide, but then it’s sadly apparent that there’s trouble at the away end.  A Chelsea fan breaks through the stewards and taunts the West Ham fans, while elements in both sets of fans seem intent on getting through the line of stewards, seats are being thrown and there also seems to be trouble in the concourse. It’s stupid because the fans doing this will get lifetime bans. Keeping the fans separate should be a pretty basic task, as it was at the Boleyn. Surely some sort of barrier in the concourse could be erected to isolate the Trevor Brooking Stand?

The media hasn’t helped by writing so much about the likelihood of trouble, but its no excuse. If your idea of a good time is to spend the latter part of the match trying to get at the away fans then we don’t want you at West Ham. We all know the headlines will be about this now and not a great game.

Sub Zaza sets up Payet who shoots too close to Begovic. Cahill pulls a scrappy goal back for the Blues at the end, but it’s still a great victory and performance from the Irons. And for all the idiotic actions of a few hundred Herberts, it’s also a sign that a London derby under the lights at the new stadium can generate an atmosphere that isn’t that far off the intensity of Upton Park.

We retreat to the King Edward VII where we have to convince the bouncers we are West Ham fans (Nigel produces his WHU lanyard) and are joined by Gavin, who has just got Trevor Brooking to sign a Dinamo Tbilisi programme and over a pint of London Pride controversially suggests that he prefers real ale to craft beer. The game is being portrayed as world war three in the media. We hear the draw for the quarter-finals and disappointingly discover that it’s Man United away. Just have to get to the semis the hard way now.

A great performance on the football pitch if not in the stands.

PLAYER RATINGS: Randolph 7; Ogbonna 7, Reid 8, Kouyate 8; Fernandes 8 (Feghouli 7), Obiang 8, Noble 9, Payet 8, Lanzini 7 (Ayew 6), Cresswell 8; Antonio 9 (Zaza 6) .


Steve said...

Thanks for sorting the ticket Pete (no pun intended). Hope you weren't held up at all.

Pete May said...

No problem and it was good to see Roz - she now has it. Hope you saw the highlights,,,