Chelsea had to settle for a point for the third successive match after they were denied a stonewall penalty late on at the London Stadium after a clear Thomas Soucek handball wasn’t given. In the 1-1 draw that saw Joao Felix get his first Chelsea goal, Graham Potter’s men dominated in the first half as his new signings showed their individual quality.
However, that individual ability wasn’t enough to secure an important three points and former left-back Emerson was on hand to level the scores and secure the Hammers a vital point in their fight against relegation.
Enzo Fernandez was arguably the standout performer, and he picked out Joao Felix who side footed home from close range as Chelsea looked like they could run away with it in the opening stages. The linesman’s flag denied them on two further occasions as Potter’s attacking side tore the hosts apart every time they moved forward.
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Having looked second best - Vladimir Coufal finally put a ball into the box and it was flicked to the back post by Jarrod Bown, before Emerson took advantage of some slack defending to pass the ball home. From nowhere, the Hammers were level. It was the only genuine chance they created, but it was all they needed.
The battle of the £100m midfielders showed two of the finest in the division go at it. Enzo was superb on the ball and had the tenacity to win the ball back on several occasions, while Declan Rice was more than up for the fight against the club whose academy he left in 2014. The Englishman’s energy is relentless, and he drives his team forward when needed. Chelsea’s dream may be to have them both in the same midfield next season, with the Hammers captain looking likely to leave east London for fields anew in summer.
The individual talent on show for Chelsea was so obvious. Joao Felix was superb and his movement off the ball was key for the Blues attacking prowess. The formation of a connection with Enzo looked to be forming as the Argentinian tried to pick him out on several occasions.
Mykhailo Mudryk looked lively while on his first start Noni Madueke showed glimpses of his quality, without any end product. It’s the issue Potter has to deal with and only time will help his collection of new players form any connection on the pitch. At the moment, they are a bunch of attacking players who have immense ability and pace, but there isn’t much link-up play between them.
It bodes well for the future though. Given time, this bunch of players could tear the league apart once those telepathic connections have been made. Aside from one momentary lapse in concentration, first from Marc Cucurella and then Reece James that led to the first goal, Chelsea were once again rock solid at the back.
Potter’s men had kept three clean sheets in a row before today and aside from that goal, Kepa was barely troubled as the Blues pushed for the winner in the second half. Unfortunately, in the here and now, they cannot convert the draws into wins. That is now three in a row for Potter and they’ve picked up just 31 points from their 22 matches so far.
West Ham thought they had a late winner but Declan Rice strayed offside and then Chelsea were denied a stonewall penalty as Thomas Soucek clearly blocked a shot from the edge of the box with his hand. The late drama in this London derby didn’t amount to anything and it is certainly a point that serves West Ham more than Chelsea.
This season is a write off for Potter’s men. More dropped points means the top four will streak further away from them, but if Todd Boehly can hold his nerve, these players could do something special next season. Clearly, both for Potter and the players, more time is needed.
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