Premiership: Chelsea 1-0 West Ham

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Match reports

The Guardian, Jon Brodkin: “Chelsea beating West Ham did not even register on the Richter scale. Mourinho’s players will need to raise their level in Bremen and Manchester but it felt as though they would have stepped up a gear had West Ham equalised Geremi’s nicely curled free-kick.”

Daily Telegraph, Clive Tyldesley: “Both of the title contenders have unfinished Champions League business to take care of before Sunday’s showdown, but for once the greatest show on Planet Football is a bit of an unwanted distraction. While Chelsea’s ultimate ambition is clearly to conquer Europe, the defence of their domestic title is the priority that focuses their minds totally on a weekly basis. Nobody wins Premiership matches with the same solid certainty that Chelsea do.”

Sunday Telegraph, Patrick Barclay: “Alan Pardew was warmly greeted by Jose Mourinho as he emerged from the tunnel and complimented at the end and, while all that must have made a pleasant change from his treatment at the hands of Arsene Wenger a couple of weeks back, the West Ham manager would have preferred the three points his team took from Arsenal – or at least the single one that would not have greatly flattered their efforts here.”

Official Chelsea FC Website, Paul Mason: “Essien’s incredible energy was there for all to see as West Ham collected a handful of yellow cards in an attempt to reduce his influence ”” all to no avail as he covered acres of pitch right up to the final whistle, unlucky not to have scored with a shot that hit woodwork.”

Daily Mail, Neil Ashton: “Chelsea have been beaten just once in their last 17 games and there is a resilience about this team that separates them from the chasing pack. That much was made clear by the manner of their single-goal victory over West Ham. Mourinho’s side have conceded just seven times in the Premiership and, although the floodgates failed to open after Geremi’s superbly taken free-kick midway through the first half, Chelsea were always in command.”

The Times, Matt Hughes: “It is a sign of José Mourinho’s desperation to return to the top of the Premiership that he is talking up Chelsea’s chances of beating Manchester United on Sunday. The Chelsea manager is usually fastidious in his application of one of football’s oldest clichés, taking each game as it comes, but all rules have exceptions. As soon as the final whistle sounded against West Ham United on Saturday, Mourinho began his campaign to put pressure on the Premiership leaders, ignoring Wednesday’s Champions League visit to Werder Bremen to send a message to Old Trafford that the champions are coming to get them.”

The good

  1. Three points. Not the most fluent performance of the season, but a win that remained just the right side of comfortable given the spirited display by Alan Pardew’s men.
  2. Geremi. In a team full of stars, one of the first purchases of the Abramovich era has quietly gone about his business without complaint for the last few years, generally fitting in comfortably when required. Defensively still not the greatest, but you have to be a fairly strong character to step up for a free kick with the likes of Drogba, Shevchenko and Lampard around, let alone to bury it with the sort of style that Gianfranco Zola used to display. The difference between one point and all three – well done that man.
  3. Ashley Cole. Slowly settling in after a fairly turbulent summer, he took a little while to warm to his battle with Carlos Tevez but eventually came off best in a tremendously engaging contest with the Argentine international. Potentially one of our most important players at Old Trafford next weekend.
  4. Fortress Stamford Bridge. Surely now one of the toughest grounds to visit as an away team in European football?
  5. Alan Pardew. A great deal of mutual respect between the West Ham boss and Mourinho was good to see and Pardew fielded a side which contained Chelsea’s threat admirably well, but not at the expense of some decent attacking play of their own, especially on the flanks. Another day may have seen them leave with a point. And anyone who annoys Arsene Wenger that much is alright in my book.

The bad

  1. Carlo. It feels wrong to single out such a loyal servant to the club, but we have been truly spoilt with Petr Cech between the sticks. Far too many nervous moments came from a lack of communication between ‘keeper and defence. Sir Alex will have watched with interest and you would imagine that the instruction to pepper the ‘corridor of uncertainty’ with crosses will be issued in the Old Trafford dressing room next weekend.
  2. Our vunerability to teams that play with width. West Ham’s final ball was poor on Saturday but they often enjoyed far too much space on the flanks, especially with Konchesky and Etherington on the left. Allow Giggs and Evra the same next Sunday and we could well be in trouble.

The Michael Essien Man of the Match Award

Yes, again. Potentially one of the finest midfielders of his generation; sort the final ball out, add a few more goals and he’ll have everything. A joy to watch.

Final thoughts

A big week ahead. Bremen and Manchester United, the latter potentially a defining moment in our season and the destination of the league title. Fergie has commenced the verbal battle by suggesting that the referee needs to be strong. A master of understatement, as always.

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