Arnautovic-less West Ham break Chelsea’s 100% record

West Ham continued to build on the progress made away at Everton in Round 5, holding Maurizio Sarri’s Chelsea to a goalless stalemate at the London Stadium. Few, if any, of the 56,875 fans at the stadium would’ve expected the struggling Hammers, sans key forward Marko Arnautovic, to take points off the Blues, who came into the fixture having won all five of their previous games and tied for most goals scored along with Man City.

Instead, West Ham produced a resolute defensive performance which showed their players were getting a hang of the systems implemented by Manuel Pellegrini. It could’ve even been a famous win- there were three very decent chances to the Hammers, two of which would’ve probably been buried by Marko Arnautovic, had he been available.

West Ham made only one change to the side that had beaten Everton, with Michail Antonio coming for the injured Arnautovic in their 4-1-4-1 formation. Antonio’s promotion to the starting XI also allowed Ryan Fredericks to come onto the bench. Chelsea, on the other hand, made 5 changes from the side that had beaten PAOK in the Europa League in midweek. With Pedro injured, Chelsea opted for a front trio of Willian, Giroud and Hazard.

Hammers starting lineup v Chelsea: Fabianski, Zabaleta, Diop, Balbuena, Masuaku, Rice, Noble, Obiang, Anderson, Yarmolenko, Antonio

Chelsea dominated possession and stats- by the 28th minute, they had already racked up more than 220 passes, and finished with well over 750 at the end of 90 minutes. Jorginho himself made about a quarter of them- with his 180 passes catapulting him into the record books for most passes in the Premier League game.

Michail Antonio had two chances in the first half- one which he skewed over, and the other which saw him shoot straight at Kepa from close range. West Ham’s third, and perhaps best chance, fell to Andriy Yarmolenko in the second half, but the Ukrainian headed wide with the goal at his mercy. It was poor defending from Chelsea to leave him unmarked, but fortunately, for the Blues it didn’t cost them.

West Ham did a fairly good job of marking Hazard. Chelsea, somewhat bizarrely, continued to play Kante in a non familiar advanced role- he tried his best, but it was clear that it wasn’t his best position. There was one decent heading chance which the little man had, a chance that would’ve probably been converted had it fallen to Giroud instead of Kante.

A clean sheet and the first team to take points off an in-form Chelsea- Pellegrini would’ve taken that very gladly before this fixture.

West Ham will now take on Macclesfield in the Cup on Wednesday, while Chelsea will play Liverpool in the first of a double header against the Reds, with the two sides set to do battle in both League and Cup next week.

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