Chelsea faced up to a gritty and resilient West Ham side on Wednesday evening in what was a hugely pinnacle fixture in their pursuit of the Premier League title. It was Chelsea who came out on top winning the match by one goal to nil. Manager Jose Mourinho described his side as needing to adapt to facing different opponents and Wednesday was a perfect example of that.
As they have done on many occasions recently, they had to grind out the victory and go in at the same level as their opponents. Chelsea played on the counter as apposed to attempting to boss the game and trying to break down a West Ham defence that would be strong and determined.
We’ve seen many matches in modern football where the stronger team will spend 90 minutes attacking and passing the ball around the 18-yard area with no way of getting through a crowded and resilient defence, so it would seem that Mourinho is trying new tactics and rather than holding possession high up the pitch waiting for an opening, it seems his side have been sitting deeper at times, inviting pressure from the opponents, to then exploit them with pace on the counter attack when they are vulnerable and short a numbers. A tactic that was employed last night on many occasions and by many of the top clubs this season including Manchester City and Arsenal. Is this the new tiki taka?
Chelsea held on to see the game out last night after Eden Hazard’s headed, yes that’s correct, HEADED goal in the first half. Thibaut Courtois pulled off some fine saves and Gary Cahill with some excellent last ditch tackles to see it out, but Mourinho seems confident in his defence to do their jobs and confident in their style of play to see games out. I think he fully believes that if West Ham did score, his side would have gone and got another in a game that could have easily been 4-4!
Hazard was once again outstanding last night and is our huge threat on the counter and a breath of fresh air with this tactic, where you need direct pace when running with the ball and there aren’t many better at that than him in world football.
Manchester City also won as expected at home to Leicester and still sit five points behind Chelsea, but this was a huge result for Chelsea and you could see that in the way they celebrated. To go to this West Ham side who are organised, a threat in attack and defend hard, and get all three points, is an outstanding result.
Simon Phillips – News Editor – @cfcneteditor