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Saturday, 26th January 2002

Chelsea 1
West Ham United 1

by Graeme Howlett

Boxing Day 1962. League leaders Blackburn Rovers recorded their biggest ever away way with an 8-2 humbling of Ron Greenwood's hapless Hammers at Upton Park.

Two days later the teams met again at Ewood Park. Rovers, unbeaten in eight matches ahead of the game inexplicably lost 3-1, thanks to a Budgie Byrne brace in a game remembered as a tactical success for Greenwood.

Roll the clock forward 40 years or so to January 20th 2002. Glenn Roeder's men are equally humbled 5-1 at Stamford Bridge by a rampant Chelsea.

Eight days later the two sides met again. And although not such a great turnaround as that which Greenwood's side recorded, it was still nonetheless cast-iron proof (if it was ever necessary) that some things never change at West Ham.

The FA Cup, with all its great traditions seems to bring something out of the Hammers which is unexplainable. As happy as they were upon leaving Stamford Bridge on Saturday with a replay to look forward to, many Hammers fans were scratching their heads wondering why we couldn't have played like this last week - just as those Hammers fans at Ewood Park 40 years ago will no doubt have been.

In truth Chelsea could have sown this one up well before half time. Chance after chance was wasted by the home side who took full advantage of a defence in disarray, cobbled together by Roeder to try and deter the kind of scoreline which the Hammers suffered last weekend.

Although Roeder, like Greenwood many years before changed his tactics to deal with the threat of the Blues there can be no argument that this was anything like Ron's masterstroke. Back was the 5-3-2 formation that had reaped such disastrous rewards at the likes of Ewood Park and Middlesbrough's Riverside stadium earlier in the season. In came Ragnvald Soma to replace the injured Trevor Sinclair - the last time the young Norwegian played was in that 7-1 thrashing at Blackburn.

Bizarrely Chelsea left in-form Eidar Gudjohnson on the bench, replaced by Mikael Forssell who had scored four in his last four games - and all coming as a sub. Still the threat of the ever-potent Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink was there, and it wasn't too long before he notched his ninth goal in eight games against West Ham.

Just 20 minutes into the game the Dutchman gave Chelsea the lead with an absolute peach of a goal; critics will point to Ragnvald Soma for affording the striker too much space, but you cannot argue that the delivery was anything other than top class.

David James was left rooted to the spot; but for him how many more goals would we have conceded in the two games?

At that stage the Hammers looked like rolling over, as wave after wave of Chelsea pressure made a repeat of last weekend's result seem a certainty. But somehow Roeder's boys kept the deficit at just one until the break - lady luck was certainly shining on them.

To be fair to the home side the opening fifteen minutes of the second half were much the same, but Roeder, clearly aware that changes needed to be made if we were to stay in with a shout brought off the aforementioned Soma, Don Hutchison and Nigel Winterburn in the space of eleven minutes to be replaced by Jermain Defoe, Steve Lomas and new boy Vladimir Labant.

Yet again it was to prove a good decision by Roeder. As the Hammers adopted a more familiar 4-4-2 so they came back into the game, and now it was Chelsea who were on the backfoot.

The reward for such enterprising play duly arrived - but it was a close call. The Hammers were seven minutes from an ignominious FA Cup exit when Labant delivered a free kick into the box from out wide. A scramble ensued in the box, before Freddy Kanoute pounced on a loose ball which he sent into the roof of the Chelsea net - to the delight of many Hammers situated behind the goal.

Freddie, whose wife gave birth to their first child last week celebrated in true 'Romario' style, swinging the imaginary tot in his arms. This was missed by most in the Hammers sections who were hugging anyone they could find in scenes eerily reminiscent of that wonderful day in Manchester last season, a year to the day previous.

In the end the Hammers has the better chances to win the game; Freddie Kanoute perhaps guilty of spurning the best opportunity when he beat Cudicini to the ball but he could only head wide.

As it stands the sides will meet again at Upton Park on Wednesday week, with the winners to meet first division Preston in round five.

That particular fixture will also evoke memories of the early sixties, when the two sides met in the 1964 FA Cup final which the Hammers won 3-2.

A good omen? Maybe. But it all depends on what Hammers team turns out next week. Will it be the side who beat Newcastle and Derby in fine style, or the team that rolled over against Tottenham and Fulham?

We shall see ...

KUMB Stats

West Ham United: James, Schemmel, Winterburn, Repka, Dailly, Soma, Carrick, Cole, Hutchison, Di Canio, Kanoute

Subs: Defoe (Soma), Lomas (Hutchison), Labant (Winterburn), Andersson, Kitson

Chelsea: Cudicini, Gallas, Melchiot, Desailly, Terry, Petit, Lampard, Le Saux, Zola, Forssell, Hasselbaink

Subs: Gudjohnsen (Forssell 69), Dalla Bona (Hasselbaink 74), Jokanovic (Petit 82), De Goey, Morris

Goals: Hasselbaink (20), Kanoute (83)

Booked: Hutchison (foul, 38), Lampard (foul, 65), Terry (foul, 78)

Attendance: 33,443

Referee: David Ellaray (6)

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