Ten man West Ham executed a smash and grab to defeat Chelsea 3-1 at the London Stadium on Sunday afternoon.
The wait for Mauricio Pochettino’s first competitive win as boss of the Blues goes on after they failed to turn a dominant first half showing into a win, with David Moyes’ physical tusslers frustrating their Premier League rivals.
The Pensioners made a torrid start with Nayef Aguerd rising highest at the back post to nod home a corner. Yet the visitors grew into the game and finally got their just reward when Carney Chukwuemeka fashioned space and rifled home a sublime finish in the 28th minute. Enzo Fernandez would fire a penalty straight at Alphonse Areola as the hosts soaked up the pressure before half-time.
Inexpliably the hosts would take the lead again, with Michail Antonio striking from long distance. Goalscorer Aguerd would see red for a late challenge on Nicolas Jackson yet the Hammers dug in to grind out a result that on the basis of play was plain theft. A last minute penalty from Lucas Paqueta was just insult to injury.
Here is how Absolute Chelsea rated the players’ performance in their opening away game of the 2023/24 Premier League season.
Robert Sanchez – 5/10
Brave to throw himself at the feet of Jarrod Bowen and deny the hosts an opener that came from a similar set piece just two minutes later. Looked comfortable on the ball. Left clutching at straws for the hosts’ second.
Axel Disasi – 4/10
Early yellow shackled him a little. The Frenchman saw a lot of the ball but he gave it away sloppily too often in dangerous areas, and it came home to roost when Antonio put West Ham back in the lead.
Thiago Silva – 6/10
Amongst the land of the giants, O Monstro was head and shoulders above the rest in his aerial duels. Unsurprisingly looked the most experienced and competent defender amongst his peers.
Levi Colwill – 5/10
Far from convincing in this left-back role. Shrugged off the ball far too easily for West Ham’s second and that was just a microcosm of his all around play.
Malo Gusto – 6/10 (83)
Steady deputising for captain Reece James. Limited attacking output but wasn’t caused too much bother by the Hammers’ frontline. Made a particularly good recovery tackle in a period of good West Ham momentum midway through the second period.
Enzo Fernandez – 6/10
Missing a penalty happens to even the best players from time to time, but the run-up and technique was poor. Otherwise he was as silky and as precise as Chelsea fans have come to expect. Arguably too advanced to assist in build-up at points.
Conor Gallagher – 6/10 (74)
Tireless in the centre of the park, doggedly chasing down the ball. Questionable decision to have him marking the man mountain that is Aguerd from a corner for the opener, but very little he could do.
Carney Chukwuemeka – 7/10 (45)
Bright as a button in the hole and thoroughly deserved his sweetly taken equaliser. One can only hope his injury just before half-time isn’t as serious at it seems, as the youngster was starting to build up serious momentum.
Ben Chilwell – 5/10 (60)
Offered scant little on the left flank and spurned a glorious opportunity with a tame and lazy effort.
Raheem Sterling – 7/10
One of very few who can leave with any credit in the bank. It really was the Raheem Sterling of old, driving with such direct pace and skipping past defenders at ease. It is just a shame that many of the openings he worked went awry on account of his teammates’ profligacy.
Nicolas Jackson – 6/10
The finishing touch eluded him again but he worked incredibly hard in the press, haranguing the West Ham defence and linking up nicely with Sterling in particular. Full marks for effort, and you have to think the goals will come.
Mykhailo Mudryk- 3/10 (45)
Woeful doesn’t begin to cover it. Practically invisible until he slipped inside the area like a Benny Hill sketch. A torrid cameo.
Moises Caicedo – 4/10 (60)
Almost got his first assist, albeit for the other side. Then gave away a penalty late. About summed it up.
Noni Madueke – 5/10 (74)
Reasonably rusty after his injury lay-off and couldn’t make an impact. Denied late by the fingertips of Areola.
Mason Burstow – N/A (83)
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