Premier League
West Ham United 3-1 Chelsea 

Sunday, 20th August 2023
by Chris Wilkerson

It was a hard fought 3-1 win for West Ham on their first home game of the season, a battling victory where David Moyes’s side showed all their resilience to hold onto three points.

An early goal for Aguerd was levelled by Chukwuemeka in the first half, but Antonio?EUR(TM)s individual brilliance earned West Ham the lead again in the second half, before an Aguerd red card with around 25 minutes remaining made everything even more tense and anxious. But it mattered little, the home side playing fantastically with 10-men and wrapping up the victory with a Paquet?? penalty in stoppage time.

The London Stadium was bathed in glorious August sunshine as West Ham strode out for their first home game of the season. A brass band was even on show as the club presented the Europa Conference League trophy to their home fans.

There was one change for The Hammers, James Ward-Prowse brought in for his debut at the expense of Pablo Fornals. He played alongside Soucek, Paquet?? returning to his slightly more advanced position ahead of them.

The debutant made his mark early. There was a swell of expectation as he stepped up to whip in his first corner, five minutes into the game, the fans ready for arguably the Premier League?EUR(TM)s best set-piece taker to deliver.

The first one was good, a warning shot to the Chelsea defence as the cross found Zouma at the back post, but his header down was punched away by Sanchez in the Chelsea goal as Bowen launched himself at the loose ball.

If that was the sighter, the second one was perfect. Again from the right, again looping deep to the back post, but this time it found Aguerd. The Moroccan was marked by Gallagher, and lost him easily with the ball in flight.

The corner dropped perfectly onto his head, six yards out, and the defender rose high to nod it down into the bottom corner and the back of the net to give West Ham a lead just seven minutes in.

There was little time to enjoy it, however, as Chelsea looked to have earned a penalty straight from kick off. It was too easy for the away side to play from defence into midfield, and then just turn and play a through ball behind the defence for Jackson to run onto.

Areola was a little slow off his line, but fully committed himself to a ball he couldn?EUR(TM)t win, only bundling Jackson down. The referee pondered, pointed to the spot, and then immediately gave the offside. VAR checked, and the summer signing was shown to be fractionally offside.

The frantic opening 10 minutes soon settled, and the real pattern of the game emerged. For the rest of the half, at least, this became a game of Chelsea attack versus West Ham defence.

It?EUR(TM)s not entertaining, pretty or even particularly comfortable to watch, but Moyes?EUR(TM)s West Ham side are resilient, tough and are not scared of defending. That?EUR(TM)s not to say this was a clear plan, or that West Ham were particularly successful in the half, but this was a reminder of how West Ham can handle being under pressure.

The chances were all Chelsea?EUR(TM)s, and they controlled the ball and where the game was played. Jackson, who looks the exact kind of striker West Ham are currently searching for, came close with a header after a great Chilwell cross, but couldn?EUR(TM)t get over the ball and headed over.

West Ham couldn?EUR(TM)t hold the ball, clearances hit forward rather than aimed to Antonio. The striker had only give touches in the first half, a real indication of how the team struggled to keep the ball.

There was a header for Chilwell that saw the left back get on the inside of Coufal to meet an Enzo ball, and the Argentine was finding himself with ample time to pick his passes as the West Ham midfield were forced back to the edge of their own box, leaving space for the Chelsea midfielder to orchestrate.

With the away side camped in the West Ham half, it felt like a matter of time before an equaliser would come. When it did, it wasn?EUR(TM)t the fantastic Sterling, but the increasingly impressive 19-year-old Carney Chukwuemeka who got his side back into the game.

They deserved their goal. Working down the left, Jackson once more stretched the defence with a run down the channel. His pull back from the byline was cleared, but only out to Chilwell. He exchanged passes with Chukwuemeka and crossed, and his ball was stabbed out to Chukwuemeka just inside the West Ham box.

Coming in from the left, he shifted his body weight enough to throw Soucek, and used the space to smash the ball across goal and beyond Areola for a fantastic goal two minutes before the half-hour mark. It was his first Premier League goal, and the biggest compliment he can be given is that West Ham found it much easier to defend after the teenager was forced off injured at the stroke of half-time.

West Ham, whether by design or not, were stuck playing for set-pieces and the hope of counter-attacks, but they could rarely keep the ball to build one. Paquet?? did guide a shot just wide of goal after two Soucek headers from a long throw, but that was about all they had to offer.

As the break approached, the home side threw Chelsea a chance to take the lead.

It came from the dancing feet of Sterling, who picked the ball up in a more central area and once more looked to take on players with his direct dribbling. He beat two to dance into the box, and enticed Soucek into a lunging challenge.

It was a daft tackle, flying in from the side just - by mere inches - as Sterling got into the area. He was way off the ball, a major blot on what was otherwise another good performance from the Czech midfielder.

Enzo Fernandez stepped up to take the penalty, and many West Ham fans will have been wishing Lukasz Fabianski was back between the posts at the London Stadium. But it was the Frenchman, Alphonse Areola, who came out on top, guessing the right way and making a comfortable save, his first ever Premier League penalty save, down to his left and at a comfortable height. For all his wonderful passing, it was a poor penalty from the World Cup winning midfielder.

There was still time for more danger, Sterling again bursting through a packed group of defenders and hitting the byline, but his pass across the box was missed by both Jackson and Chukwuemeka before Chilwell?EUR(TM)s shot was blocked.

It had been a testing half, the sides going in level at one-apiece, and five bookings in the opening 45 minutes, too. If West Ham were to get anything from this, the manager would need to make some adjustments in the break.

In his post-match comments, Moyes talked about needing to hold the ball more and give Antonio something to work with.

His side did improve in the second half, but they still spent the majority of their time battling back the Chelsea advancing hordes. They were helped by the forced withdrawal of Chukwuemeka, whose intelligence and creativity was not even nearly matched by his replacement, Mykhailo Mudryk. The ??60m-plus Ukrainian is yet to settle and proved an easier challenge for Coufal at right back.

It appeared the game would settle back into the patterns of the first half, but Chelsea lost a little of their control, and it was just enough to give West Ham space to breathe again.

The best of David Moyes?EUR(TM)s West Ham has often been when acting suddenly and decisively, mostly in transition, avoiding the need for 10 passes when one will do.

And it was in this spirit that The Hammers took the lead again.

What started with mild frustration as Benrahma lost control of the ball in the middle soon was completely forgotten. As the Algerian challenged to get the ball back, a loose prod forward by a Chelsea defender rolled to Ward-Prowse.

Whilst there are questions of how the midfield will balance and the new signing?EUR(TM)s place in that, his immediate forward ball on his weaker foot is a sign that he will fit nicely into the way this team plays.

His pass was instant and, just as importantly, accurate. It gave Antonio a chance to quickly get at the retreating defenders, a first opportunity to really open his legs and test Chelsea?EUR(TM)s new backline.

He drove past one and strode towards the box, heading slightly to the right side of the area. With a defender facing up to him on the edge, Antonio looked up and chose to shoot, later claiming he saw Sanchez in the Chelsea goal take a step to his left, opening up space to shoot.

He took his shot, driving it from 20 yards out with far too much power for the goalkeeper, flying low across him from the right and smashing into the bottom corner. Maybe reports of his demise have been exaggerated?

It lifted the stadium, players and fans alike, and whilst Chelsea regained their composure to put the pressure back on, it was never as desperate in defence as it had been in the first half.

The away side will be disappointed with what they created in the remaining 35 minutes.

There was a response on the left, Mudryk showing a flash of his potential as he galloped down the left, near to the byline and guided a ball across goal, behind the defence and into the path of Sterling.

Emerson threw himself on the slide, protecting the goal from the shot he was expecting. It didn?EUR(TM)t come, but the act may have been enough to change Sterling?EUR(TM)s mind, the England international delaying his effort, miscontrolling slightly and then faced with two defenders by the time he did get a shot away.

That Emerson slide, frantic even if effective, was a sense of the mood in the ground. There was still an air of anxiety about the place. It may go some way to explaining exactly why Nayef Aguerd went on a 10-yard slide, 40 yards from his own goal to try and dispossess Jackson as a ball came to the striker?EUR(TM)s feet.

All Jackson needed to do was move the ball slightly to one side and Aguerd was beat, his feet smashing into the shin of the forward. Already on a yellow card, Aguerd?EUR(TM)s day was rightfully done with around 25 minutes still left to play, and he was somewhat fortunate to see a yellow before the red.

Fornals and Alvarez had been prepared to come on, but a rethink was forced. Ogbonna was the man now, slotting into that defence, coming on for Benrahma as West Ham set up in a narrow 4-4-1.

Strangely, though, the red card not only didn?EUR(TM)t make things easier for Chelsea, it seemed to lift West Ham. The fans were louder now, sensing the need for their support, and they were lifted further as Paquet?? and Gallagher engaged in a little bit of handbags, the Brazilian annoying the fourth Hanson brother enough to provoke a push, which Paquet?? dramatically fell from. It was nothing, but sometimes a bit of agitation can bring an awful lot of noise from the crowd.

Soon Fornals was on, replacing Antonio, and his substitution had a great impact, his energy and ability to pick a forward pass giving the defence better cover and more opportunity to step up the pitch. Bowen went up front, and did a fantastic job in the role, enough maybe to convince some doubters that Moyes?EUR(TM)s idea to use him there long-term could well work.

And then, inside the last 10 minutes, it was Alvarez?EUR(TM)s turn for a debut, replacing fellow debutant Ward-Prowse in the heart of the midfield. The Mexican looked suited to the league almost instantly, a big lunging block for his first touch was much appreciated by the fanbase. He put himself about and brought more good energy from the bench.

There was still time for Chelsea to carve out a chance or two. Their best fell to Mudryk after more fantastic work from Sterling down the right. His clipped ball to the back post dropped nicely for the Ukrainian to volley, but he got it all wrong, blazing high and wide when in a promising position.

And with their desperation to fly forward, Chelsea left space behind. Pochettino slowly moved from a back five to a back four to get on more attacking options, and finally threw a striker on for a defender in desperation as time ticked away.

But that space did give West Ham an opportunity to end the game themselves. Fornals, irrepressible from the bench, nearly did just that as he glided into the air, but his clever shot was stopped by good reactions from Sanchez.

It came into stoppage time before Chelsea really had their big moment. The substitute Madueke came inside from the right, took it centrally to the edge of the box and hit a low shot.

Out came a Soucek leg, prodding it from left of Areola to direct in the bottom left corner, but the Frenchman made the crucial save once more, an incredible piece of both athleticism and reaction goalkeeping to claw the ball away from his goal when it seemed to be rolling painfully in.

If that eased some nerves, they were soon gone entirely when the excellent Emerson and enigmatic Paquet?? combined to win a penalty. Paquet??, who was excellent when the chips were down after the sending off, played it wide to the left back, and then went across to receive just inside the box.

There he controlled, danced on it and then rolled the perfect backheel into the path of his former Lyon teammate, Emerson bursting onto the ball, and beating Moises Caicedo?EUR(TM)s lunge towards it. The Ecuadorian instead tripped the full back, and a penalty was awarded with seconds of stoppage time remaining.

With both Benrahma and Ward-Prowse off the pitch, Paquet?? was left to end a tumultuous week with a first goal of the season, slotting it past Sanchez as he dived the wrong way. The London Stadium erupted, and West Ham had gained their first win of the season, a nice four points from their opening two games.

In the summer sun, and after a season where games like this never seemed to go West Ham?EUR(TM)s way, it was the Irons celebrating in the sunshine as Boehly?EUR(TM)s billion dollar team left with nothing but defeat.

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Player Ratings


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Match Facts

West Ham United: , , , , , , , , , , .

Goals: None.

Booked: None.

Sent off: None.

Chelsea: .

Subs not used: .

Goals: .

Booked: .

Sent off: None.

Referee: .

Attendance: 0.

Man of the Match: .