Chelsea scored late as they prevented rivals West Ham jumping into the top four. The Blues twice came from behind to get level, but they never looked like winning the game. Manuel Lanzini and Andy Carroll each put the Hammers ahead, with Cesc Fabregas equalising twice towards the end of each half. The point leaves Chelsea 10th, while West Ham are still battling for the Champions League.
There was no sign of fringe players as Guus Hiddink began the Blues’ long, aimless run in. They were left with nothing to play for after defeat at Everton last weekend in the FA Cup, yet most of the first choice team started. Kenedy was given a game in midfield, while Loic Remy came in for the suspended Diego Costa. Aside from that, and the continued absence of Kurt Zouma, there was nothing fresh about this side.
It could be argued that Hiddink had to start a strong team here, as West Ham winning at the Bridge wouldn’t have gone down well. Especially this Hammers side, one who are on a very good run and potentially could be mixing it with the likes of Bayern Munich and Barcelona next term. That’s no accident, as the visitors proved their ability pretty early on.
Lanzini got the opener for Slaven Bilic’s men after just over 15 minutes. His fantastic strike from around 25 yards left Thibaut Courtois stumped, and it completely silenced the home support. Jose Mourinho and his team lost away to West Ham earlier in the season, and this game was set to be equally as tough.
It took almost all the time available in the first half for the Blues to get level. Three minutes in to added time at the end of the first period, they finally got an equaliser. Fabregas curled in a free kick to level the score, after Chelsea spent most of the opening 45 second best.
West Ham showed no sign of letting up here, as a win would have seen them jump into the top four. Andy Carroll looked to have put them on course after an hour, but there was more late drama as Hiddink’s men struck back to avoid defeat. This time, Fabregas had the chance to convert from the spot.
Substitute Ruben Loftus-Cheek went down, appearing to be tripped by Michail Antonio. The decision looked soft, but Fabregas didn’t really care. He scored his sixth goal of the season to put Chelsea back level, as they avoided a first home defeat by West Ham for 14 years.
It isn’t exactly a result to get excited about, but avoiding defeat is a good start for a side who have been in the bottom half most of the season. Hopefully we see a few more changes to the team going forward, introducing some much needed fresh faces.
LCN Man of the Match: Cesc Fabregas