Although the same can’t be said for all of Rafa Benitez’s performers, Chelsea managed to come upon some St. Patrick’s Day luck as their midfield magicians kicked into overdrive against the Hammers.
As is ever the case, the Champions League title holders had their share of talismans as well, in the form of less reliable stars, all of whom have been given a rating out of 10 in the following slides.
Petr Cech Had a quiet afternoon for the most part but rose well to claim what aerial balls were there to be taken and provided his usually reliable presence in between Chelsea’s pipes.
Ricardo Vaz Te’s sweetly struck long-range effort tested the Czech international just before the break, and some second-half defensive blips kept Chelsea’s No.1 on his toes, but an all-round easy day was had by Petr Cech.
Cesar Azpilicueta got up and down the right-hand touchline well, helping Eden Hazard, Juan Mata and Victor Moses form an even more potent attacking force, thanks to his added dimension.
Azpilicueta competed with Matt Jarvis confidently, and the West Ham winger was restricted to just a few foraging runs thanks to the endeavours of Rafa Benitez’s resident right-back.
A spotless display from the England international ensured that no West Ham talent had much luck down Chelsea’s left flank which, in turn, allowed Ashley Cole to probe the visitors’ defence with some engaging runs forward of his own.
While his full force wasn’t truly felt in attack, it was refreshing to see a full-back of Cole’s quality put in such a defensively astute performance, helping significantly in the chase for a clean sheet as a result.
Featuring at centre-back once again, the flamboyant side of David Luiz was certainly in effect at times against West Ham as the defender strayed beyond his parameters as well as struggled to cope with the physicality of Andy Carroll.
That being said, Luiz’s speed allowed him to roam forward out of defence, and the Brazilian came close to scoring a terrifically timed volley from around 30 yards out.
He limped off late in the game with an injury.
Gary Cahill persevered through an early injury, and, along with Luiz, struggled to stand up to the challenge Andy Carroll presented to the Chelsea defence, especially in the second half.
He looked clumsy at times and was somewhat anonymous for the hosts despite providing the likes of Frank Lampard and Ramires with decent defensive cover.
Ramires proved useful in breaking up play before initiating counterattacks for his side, but left his back line exposed as a result of his forays forward at times.
The Brazilian was deployed in an anchorman role alongside Frank Lampard but allowed Andy Carroll, Ricardo Vaz Te and Matt Jarvis too much space inside the Chelsea half on a few too many occasions, concentrating his efforts perhaps too much on attack.
A confident and well-executed outing for the midfield veteran, Frank Lampard netted the 200th goal of his Chelsea career when he opened the scoring inside 20 minutes with a deftly taken header.
While age might affect his body, it was clear from the win over West Ham that Lampard’s mind still ranks among the finest in the English top flight, and Demba Ba found himself benefiting from some of the Chelsea captain’s exquisite passing.
Although he missed a great chance in the dying minutes of the match, Lampard proved a catalyst for his side that kept momentum running in the home side’s favour throughout the 90 minutes.
Although not the exciting show we’ve come to expect from the Spaniard in his Chelsea days, Juan Mata still pitched in with a game-changing performance against West Ham, unselfishly orchestrating matters in the final third for the Blues.
Mata contributed well with a near-endless supply of ammunition for his teammates and was pulling the strings of just about everything Chelsea had going forward, matching Eden Hazard with a game-high tally of 98 touches.
There were worries that Victor Moses perhaps wasn’t up to the Chelsea standard upon his move from Wigan Athletic last summer, but the Nigerian will put any such doubts to rest as long as he continues to perform as he did against West Ham.
Joey O’Brien’s hands were kept full in trying to take care of the 22-year-old, and Moses found a successful partnership with Cesar Azpilicueta, linking up fluidly down the right wing.
If there were any negatives on Moses’ performance, it would be that the wide man could have offered more defensive cover before being taken off in the second period.
Undoubtedly the Man of the Match against Sam Allardyce’s men, Eden Hazard showed just why Chelsea forked out the kind of money they did for his signature in 2012, posing the question as to who needs strikers when you’ve got midfielders such as him.
According to WhoScored.com, the Belgian international matched Juan Mata with a tally of four key passes, hit four of his five shots on target and was as involved as anyone else on the pitch with 98 touches of the ball.
Miguel Delaney tweeted:
Allardyce: "Mata and Hazard were outstanding. Much as I'd like to say we should've defended better, sometimes you have to admire the talent"— Miguel Delaney (@MiguelDelaney) March 17, 2013
Switching from flank to flank and filling in behind the striker, Hazard ruled Chelsea’s offensive line, providing the assist for Frank Lampard’s opener before finishing with aplomb from inside the area for Chelsea’s double.
A miserable day out for the January signing, the Newcastle United form of Demba Ba was nowhere to be seen against West Ham as the Senegalese forward looked uncomfortable and lacking in confidence.
After being found wonderfully by a threaded Lampard pass, Ba’s first shot at goal was sprayed awfully wide of Jussi Jaaskelainen’s goal, and matters didn’t improve much from there.
Although his running and positioning were certainly positives to work from, strikers are expected to be more accurate than Ba’s display suggested.
Introduced with 20 minutes left to run, Oscar was impressive in his cameo and adjusted well to the tempo of the game, ultimately helping to create some late chances for the hosts.
Came on for the injured David Luiz, but with only 10 minutes to have any influence the Englishman couldn’t have really had much of an impact on the game as Chelsea mounted a comfortable position on their visitors.
John Obi Mikel
Coming on for Juan Mata, Mikel helped in securing the win during the dying minutes and provided a secure outlet in the middle of the park.
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