Premier League Column: Week 14 – West Ham breeze past Rafa’s Chelsea
It’s been a brilliant weekend of football yet again, with plenty of goals and drama for us all to get excited about. QPR are slowly improving with the appointment of Harry Redknapp, who took charge after Mark Hughes was inadvertently shown the door. Clint Dempsey and Moussa Dembélé enjoyed a successful return to Craven Cottage, as Spurs recorded a comfortable 3-0 win over Fulham.
Stoke also won at West Brom, and were only the second team to win at the Hawthorns this season, the other being Manchester City. The Citizens themselves earned a respectable draw against their bogey team Everton, but Mancini will have wanted to take home all three points.
Onto my three top games of the weekend fixtures, and it was a hard job to choose!
West Ham United 3 Chelsea 1
Rafa Benitez’s reign as the Chelsea interim boss hasn’t started too great really, has it? First, there was the fan’s revolt, unhappy about the squad rotation, and now losing against West Ham. Take nothing away from the Hammers though as they fought to the bitter end.
However, Chelsea were dominant throughout the first half, and they were rewarded with their efforts. Fernando Torres pulled the ball back for fellow Spaniard Juan Mata who fired past Irons ‘keeper Jussi Jääskeläinen to give Chelsea a deserved lead.
So half time approached, and the game was completely changed by Big Sam’s substitutions at the interval. Mohammed Diame and Matt Taylor replaced James Tomkins and Gary O’Neil. The Hammers looked to have something else about them, and showed glimpses of what they have done in previous Premier League games. Their resilience and physical presence has been truly impressive and at times, a pleasure to watch.
It took until the 63rd minute for West Ham to break the defence, and Carlton Cole headed against his former employers to make the score level. Cole then became provider as he set up Diame, who smashed his shot from deep inside the penalty box. It provoked the travelling Chelsea fans to sing “There’s only one Di Matteo”, but it was only greeted by the Hammers belting out “Your’re getting sacked in the morning”. You’ve got to love the banter!
Modibo Maïga then made sure there was no way back for Chelsea, and he scored moments after coming on from the bench to secure the Hammers’ first victory against Chelsea in the Abramovich era.
A great result for West Ham, and how long will Benitez last?
Reading 3 Manchester United 4
This seven goal thriller was epic. Manchester United are now infamous for conceding early goals, and that came true again in this match. Robson-Kanu fired the home side into the lead on eight minutes, but unfortunately for them, it didn’t last too long.
A neat one-two with Ashley Young resulted in Anderson’s shot beating Adam Federici at his near post to level the scoring before Wayne Rooney, who was criticised earlier this week for not scoring enough, converted a penalty which was needlessly given away. Reading did well to get in front, but they didn’t do the basics in defending to keep United at bay. They simply gave away too many chances.
Despite the mediocre defending, Reading levelled, this time through Le Fondre’s headed goal, and that set them on their way. Reading miraculously went 3-2 up after Morrison scored, and that made the fans at the Majeski Stadium dream of a famous win.
Seven minutes later, Rooney scored his fourth league goal to yet again level the score. Reading couldn’t pull anything else out of the locker though and as a result found themselves 4-3 down thanks to Robin van Persie’s 34th minute winner.
Reading were incredibly unlucky here, and Man Utd were a tad fortunate, really.
Arsenal 0 Swansea 2
Arsenal fans seem to be losing patience with veteran manager Arsène Wenger after their recent league form. They seem to be missing that little spark that can win matches, and RVP has really been the missing piece.
Swansea, however, have been very impressive this season under Michael Laudrup, especially after the signing of Michu, who scored a brace against the Gunners. The Swans had to wait until the 88th minute to score though, but it was well worth the wait.
Michu’s side footed effort was a joy to behold, and that sums up the sort of player he is – Reliable. Michu then doubled the Swans’ lead after Nathan Dyer pounced on a loose ball after some poor defending by Gunners full back Jenkinson before playing a well weighted through ball into the path of Michu, who then placed his shot past Szczesny.
Results in full
Norwich 2 – 1 Sunderland
West Ham 3 – 1 Chelsea
Arsenal 0 – 2 Swansea
Fulham 0 – 3 Tottenham
Liverpool 1 – 0 Southampton
Man City 1 – 1 Everton
QPR 1 – 1 Aston Villa
West Brom 0 – 1 Stoke
Reading 3-4 Man Utd
Newcastle 3-0 Wigan
My Team of the Week