West Ham Given Hazard Warning
By Tom Dowsett
Tuesday 09 Apr 2019 12:05:00
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West Ham United suffered their first defeat of the year in Stratford last weekend when Everton beat them 2-0. They were hoping for an improvement in their away form as they travelled to Stamford Bridge for a London derby on Monday night, however, Chelsea sent them crashing to another defeat by the same scoreline.

Clearly disappointed with the performance against the Toffees last time out, Manuel Pellegrini made five changes to his team, as Ryan Fredericks replaced Pablo Zabaleta who was left out of the matchday eighteen, while Issa Diop dropped to the bench as Fabián Balbuena made his long-awaited return from a knee injury.

Pedro Obiang, Robert Snodgrass and Lucas Pérez were also all amongst the substitutes as captain Mark Noble started after sitting out the game against Marco Silva's men, while Felipe Anderson returned from an ankle injury. Javier Hernández started behind Marko Arnautovic who led the line.

This game was in the middle of a tough schedule for Maurizio Sarri's men after facing Cardiff City and Brighton and Hove Albion in the last week while they also have a UEFA Europa League quarter-final upcoming but they were the ones who started the brighter of the two sides.

Eden Hazard has been in imperious form lately and his pace certainly proved a concern for the visitors. He could have opened the scoring but fortunately Angelo Ogbonna brought him down and was correctly booked for the challenge.

Emerson took responsibility for the resulting free-kick but it was no trouble for visiting goalkeeper Lukasz Fabianski.

The game had really opened up by this point and the hosts had another chance on sixteen minutes as youngster Callum Hudson-Odoi sent his shot narrowly over the bar after linking up well with N'Golo Kanté.

The home side's pressure was by now becoming relentless and it eventually paid off on twenty four minutes when Hazard drove through the defence and calmly slotted the ball past Fabianski.

Chelsea were soon on the hunt for a second and went close on a number of occasions. The best of which saw Gonzalo Higuain shoot from a tight angle. Fortunately for the Irons though, it came back off the post.

A day short of a year ago, this fixture ended in a 1-1 draw and Pellegrini's men went down the tunnel for the break in the hope that they could leave with another.

The West Ham boss made his first substitution at half-time as he replaced Hernández with Snodgrass meaning Arnautovic was able to play through the middle.

The change in formation certainly made a difference as the East Londoners went ever so close to equalising. Great linkup play between Anderson and Arnautovic resulted in Manuel Lanzini firing in a fierce shot, which home stopper Kepa Arrizabalaga managed to get his fists to.

On 63 minutes, out of nothing Aaron Cresswell unleashed another fierce effort which went narrowly wide.

Soon after, Hazard had an opportunity for a second goal when Reuben Loftus-Cheek set him away but Fabianski was able to hold onto the effort.

Both teams made changes on 70 minutes with Chelsea introducing Ross Barkley for Loftus-Cheek, while Cresswell took over the captaincy, as Obiang took the place of Noble for West Ham.

Barkley nearly had the desired effect as nine minutes later, he had the chance to seal the game but he could only send his effort wide. However, he did have a part to play when Hazard ensured that the visitors went back across London with nothing as the former Everton midfielder's cross was met by the "deadly" striker who thumped the ball into the net giving Fabianski no chance. 

It wasn't too long before referee Christopher Kavanagh blew his final whistle and the home side showed no sign of slowing down as their congested fixture programme continues.

West Ham will surely want to get another away success sealed soon enough however, with a trip to Old Trafford and the challenge of facing Manchester United to come on Saturday, they might find it hard repeating their success from late September.

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