Chelsea proved on Sunday that they won't give up their top-four spot and Champions League qualification without a fight.
The Blues looked like a very dangerous side on Sunday, beating West Ham, 2-0, off goals from Frank Lampard and Eden Hazard. And Chelsea probably should have won by a larger margin. While West Ham had several chances of their own, Chelsea left at least four goals on the table.
Demba Ba absolutely blew an early breakaway with a poorly taken attempt at a chip that went far wide of the net. To his credit, Ba was active early and was very close to scoring for Chelsea.
But it was Lampard who got Chelsea on the board first. After several chances near the goal, Hazard played a lovely chip over the top of the defense and onto the head of Lampard, who calmly slotted the ball into the back of the net.
It was Lampard's 200th goal for Chelsea.
Not long after, the referee denied Andy Carroll a goal when David Luiz went down very easily on a contested ball between the two players in the box. Replays showed that Carroll slightly pushed Luiz in the back, but the defender certainly exaggerated the force of the contact.
The referee sided with Luiz, however, and Carroll's goal wasn't allowed.
While Chelsea threatened more in the first half—the Blues probably should have scored two or three goals at least in the half—both sides exchanged chances throughout, including Ba failing to score after once again getting behind the defense.
Not long into the second half, Hazard once again left his imprint on the game. After fielding a beautiful pass from Juan Mata, Hazard dribbled past one defender, squared himself in the box and rifled home Chelsea's second goal.
That would be enough for Chelsea to cruise the rest of the way, though the team would have a few more opportunities go awry, namely Lampard pushing an absolute sitter far above the goal after Oscar found him in the middle of the box with a brilliant pass from out wide.
The win put Chelsea back into third place, a point clear of Tottenham (with a game in hand) and five points clear of fifth-place Arsenal.
Eden Hazard, Chelsea: A
Hazard was brilliant again in this game, setting up Lampard's goal and putting forth a brilliant individual effort when scoring his goal. At times this year, Hazard has looked as dangerous as any other player in the Premier League.
When Hazard is on his game and clicking with Juan Mata, Chelsea is devastating on the attack. That was the case on Sunday.
Jussi Jaaskelainen, West Ham: A-
Yes, two goals got past him, though he really shouldn't be faulted for that. On the afternoon the West Ham keeper was the team's best player, turning aside several scoring opportunities and keeping his team in the game in the first half.
West Ham threatened several times—Chelsea looked vulnerable defending crosses into the middle of the box, and West Ham went that route several times—but as a whole, few players stood out for the team. On an afternoon when Chelsea probably could have scored five or six goals, Jaaskelainen did his part to keep the game close.
Demba Ba, Chelsea: C+
Ba spent all afternoon putting himself in threatening positions and giving his Chelsea teammates a target to find on the attack.
He spent the rest of his time blowing the multitude of scoring chances his teammates set up for him.
Behind the defense in a one-on-one situation with the keeper at least three times, Ba couldn't find the back of the net. Early in the game he was oh-so-close to deflecting a cross home, while Jaaskelainen denied another chance with a solid save.
Late in the game, Ba inexplicably played a cheeky, no-look pass to Mata despite the Spaniard being 15 yards behind him. What should have been a scoring opportunity turned into Mata battling two West Ham players for possession in the corner.
Ba was active on Sunday—make no mistake about that. But his inability to score a goal disappointed, to say the least.
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