Chelsea bounced back from the Carling Cup Final defeat by blowing West Ham out of the water at Upton Park, the Blues crushing our London rivals 4-0, former Hammers’ Frank Lampard and Joe Cole finding the net, as well as a scorching finish from Michael Ballack and a first Chelsea goal for Ashley Cole.
Avram Grant kept the 4-3-3 formation that failed so miserably in the Cup Final, albeit choosing to play players in their regular positions. This meant that Anelka started in the centre of the front three, with Kalou and Joe Cole flanking him, with Drogba on the bench. Paulo Ferreira was selected at right back, whilst Michael Essien was surprisingly only a substitute.
Former Chelsea youth product Carlton Cole led the West Ham line, with luminaries such as Freddie Ljungberg, Luis Boa Morte and Mark Noble to support. Robert Green, unbeaten from the penalty spot all season was in goal, whilst Lucas Neill skippered the side.
Chelsea thought they’d taken the lead just over a minute in, but the linesman disallowed Anelka’s finish for offside, after Green saved Terry’s header.
The next part of the match involved some low paced possession football from both sides, until an error from Anton Ferdinand sparked the game into life. As Kalou burst forward, the West Ham defender tripped the Ivorian up in the box, to give away a penalty.
Up stepped Frank Lampard, and in front of the Bobby Moore Stand, he sent Green the wrong way to give the Blues the upper hand, and open the floodgates. Needless to say, the home fans weren’t best pleased as Chelsea’s Lampard kissed his badge in celebration.
Three minutes later, another ex-Hammer, Joe Cole, doubled the lead. Anelka pulled wide left, before knocking the ball sideways to Cole, whose first touch set the ball up perfectly for a brilliant left footed finish, the ball struck sweetly across Green into the bottom corner. His celebration however, was much more low key.
Astonishingly, Chelsea weren’t done yet! Two minutes later, the game was wrapped up as Michael Ballack applied the finishing touch to a glorious piece of attacking football. Frank Lampard was on the left hand side of the area when he dinked in a cross with the outside of his right boot, the ball curving away from the stretched West Ham defence and finding Ballack, who crisply half volleyed the ball past a stunned Green.
West Ham had no answer until the half an hour mark, when Noble’s powerful shot from the edge of the area drew a sharp save from Petr Čech.
On 34 minutes, Lampard, incredibly, was red carded, for the softest of “shoves” on Boa Morte. The referee missed the Portuguese’s kick out at Lampard, whose minor reaction was enough to set the West Ham fans delirious at his dismissal. Only, they were still 3-0 down.
Into the second half and Carlton Cole looked to confuse the scorers further by adding his name to the scoresheet, however John Terry, well and truly back, showed his true athleticism to clear off the line after the striker had lobbed Čech.
However, 10 man Chelsea put the icing on the cake when the other Cole, that is, Ashley, scored his first goal for Chelsea after Joe Cole’s shot was parried (still with me?!).
Kalou craftily put the England man through, and once his shot was saved, Chelsea’s other left back followed up with a precise finish from a tight angle, to really put the gloss on a wonderful Chelsea performance.
Avram Grant certainly did hit back at his critics as Chelsea’s fluid performance blew West Ham to pieces, our biggest win at Upton Park and our biggest away win under Grant setting the Blue bandwagon rolling once again ahead of our match against Olimpacios in midweek.
West Ham United (4-5-1): Green; Neill (c), Ferdinand, Upson, McCartney; Faubert(Solano 65), Mullins, Noble, Ljungberg; Boa Morte (Ashton h-t); Cole (Zamora 65).
Chelsea (4-3-3): Čech; Ferreira, Carvalho, Terry (c), A Cole; Ballack, Makelele (Alex 83), Lampard; J Cole (Essien 68), Anelka, Kalou (Malouda 74).
Referee Peter Walton.