If Sunday evening was any indication, it’s going to be a long slog to the end of the season for Chelsea supporters. After a disappointing defeat at home to Tottenham just a week ago that effectively ended Chelsea’s chances of qualifying for next season’s Champions League, Sunday’s 1-1 draw against West Ham made that outcome a virtual certainty.
In reality, the match almost summed up Chelsea’s season. For all the pretty flicks and interchanging of passes, there was a real lack of ruthlessness to Chelsea’s play which allowed the opponent to hang around a lot longer than they should.
On Sunday, Chelsea’s inability to kill off the match after Cesar Azpilicueta’s opener gave West Ham all the incentive that they needed to keep going, and when Javier Hernandez equalised midway through the second half, the draw seemed almost inevitable.
Making it even worse is that Chelsea really dominated for two-thirds of the match and West Ham struggled badly. It took West Ham 47 minutes to force Thibault Courtois to actually make a save, and Chelsea spent most of the match with West Ham pinned in their own half.
By contrast, it only took four minutes for Chelsea to have their first real sight of goal when Eden Hazard skipped past Angelo Ogbonna and flashed a shot just wide of the post.
Alvaro Morata, clearly looking more confident as of late, had the ball in the net after Hazard slid a ball through the West Ham defence, but the goal was ruled out for offside as the striker had made his run slightly too early.
Hazard would continue to torment the West Ham back line, and after a one-two with Cesc Fabregas sent him clear down the left, the Belgian drilled a low cross for Morata that the striker back-heeled just wide.
Willian could have opened the scoring when a nice interchange of passes between Willian, Hazard, and Morata set the Brazilian clear and forced Joe Hart into a good low save.
Chelsea broke the deadlock from the resulting corner when West Ham failed to deal properly with a Chelsea short corner, and Morata’s header back across goal was stabbed home by Azpilicueta.
Chelsea should have added to their tally just after the half when Hazard’s backheel freed Willian inside the West Ham area, only for Willian to send his right-footed shot wide of the mark.
Morata had the ball in the net again just before the hour mark when he was on-hand to poke home Willian’s low cross from the left, but once again, Morata found himself marginally offside.
West Ham, still searching for a goal, sent on Hernandez in the 70th minute, and it took Chelsea’s old nemesis just two minutes to score the equaliser. Gary Cahill’s poor clearing header across goal allowed Marko Arnautovic to pull the ball back for Hernandez to sweep past a wrong-footed Courtois giving the Mexican striker four goals in four substitute appearances against Chelsea.
Marcos Alonso had a chance to put Chelsea ahead when Olivier Giroud dummied a pass to allow Alonso time to spin and fire a vicious shot that Joe Hart had to save.
But Chelsea were clearly rocked by that Hernandez equaliser, and aside from Alonso’s effort and some attempts at intricate passing, Chelsea failed to threaten West Ham’s goal for the remaining 10 minutes.