Good grief. There have been better days for Chelsea FC. Today was certainly not one of them.
West Ham United looked better than they have in weeks. I have to think this was an early Christmas gift from Frank Lampard to Manuel Pellegrini. Not to discount West Ham on any level, but boy oh boy, Chelsea was a mess. Just look at the game stats.
Chelsea ran with the majority of possession, strangely had 666 passes (oooohhhh yeah in a crazy Devil voice) and somehow committed no fouls. (WHAT?!?!?) The Blues had Mount, Pulisic and 2018 World Cup winning Giroud on the attack. That’s how you get 19 shots and 6 of those on target, though West Ham were simply more accurate and precise with their shooting today.
A few items to note:
Why on earth was James playing forward Pedro in so many situations? He was useless in setting up opportunities for the attackers. And, in doing so, was often late to get to the backfield to defend (which is what he was there to do). It left a huge exposure for Chelsea and honestly, I’m surprised it was 0-3 by the half.
Chelsea spent way too many passes moving the ball backward into their own defensive territory. At the half, more than half of possession play was within the mid-field. Chelsea simply wasn’t moving it forward, which was astounding when you consider the line-up of attackers at the front, but then again, the mid-field was simply a mess and for some unknown reason, James (THE DEFENDER) spent to much time trying to set up shots, which he simply couldn’t do.
Where there weren’t large holes in the defensive line, the defenders were slow to get to the challenge and Zouma seemed at times like he was afraid of taking a hit from the ball.
But, obviously, defense doesn’t win the match (even when James thinks it might). Quality striking felt like it was coming from too far away. It was like watching a dad throw softballs to a kid, just hoping that something would connect. It clearly never did.
Today was pretty clearly a hiccup for Chelsea, who has been playing well for some time. Last weekend’s loss to ManCity was expected and the draw against Valencia (in the Champions League) wasn’t totally out of nowhere. But the lads need to get it together and Frank’s got to make some better learning moments out of a day like today.
And, the commentary is not to discredit West Ham United. They played strongly today. They appeared to easily strip away the ball from the finest of Chelsea players. Even though they appeared to tire late in the match, they still clearly did what they needed to do. Hopefully, this is a bit of a turnaround for Pellegrini’s boys.
Here’s a thing that bugs the socks off of me. When Nike took over jerseys for Chelsea, they must have put a clause in the contract that said something to the effect of: “Anything cool you’re selling now, you can’t sell any longer and all merch must have some level of co-branding from Nike. By the way, we, Nike, have no business making soccer merch.”
I say this because over the past few seasons, the storefront and the merch have gone the way of snooze-ville. So, in the spirit of acknowledging the clubs that are doing it right, let’s focus first on West Ham United. The Hammers are simply brilliant at this thing and clearly understand what their supporters want.
Want a t-shirt? Their shop has 49 of them, with sizes up to 4XL. What? You hear that Nike, 4XL and that is a regular 4XL, not some weird “slim fit” version.
There are also 36, incredibly diverse and unique supporters scarves available. You can even buy West Ham United-branded Toblerone. TOBLERONE. They have a confections section to their store.
Meanwhile, I’m trying to figure out why Nike believes my best option for a hoodie should have a giant SWOOSH on it with CHELSEA FC in small print below.
A brand new manager, an away match to prove themselves and regain the trust of the fans. Today was a big day for the Spurs. After Week 12, they had found themselves slumping in the table rankings with less and less hope. Then, the owner sacked their previous manager and brought in Jose Mourinho, a somewhat divisive manager that can either turn a club around or make things much worse. (And this isn’t to say that Mourinho is a bad manager, but things do get awfully dramatic when he’s steering the ship.)
So, today’s Week 13 match placed the Spurs against West Ham United (#COYI). The Hammers have been hanging around the bottom of the table (currently in the 16th spot). This would normally be a blow-out match for Tottenham.
Ok, the obvious first. Tottenham won. They had essentially two days to pull it together with their new manager. But, also remember, this is a champion-level team. It’s shocking how close the stats look. Moreover, the Spurs appear to have had a great first 50 minutes and then gave the Hammers the opportunity to bring it back together. The amount of possession that the Hammers carried was simply amazing when you consider the last 20 minutes of the match. West Ham’s passing accuracy was incredible consider the Spurs should be a “defender” style team. On target shots to shots overall would be 40% for the Spurs and 36% for West Ham United.
Bottom line: Both of these teams have been playing below their caliber. Hopefully, both can turn it around in the coming weeks. I’d like to see the Hammers get back up to mid-table, but at least the Spurs pulled this one off. Jose was in rare form as an apparently supportive manager on the sidelines, not doing the usual sulking he’s known for. At the very least, the rest of the season will be interesting to watch.