Let’s have a look into the quick match report and see how victory certainly didn’t come cheap for Chelsea at the Boleyn Ground against Big Sam’s side.
– Chelsea started their game in a really pacey manner. They closed in at the target on several occasions as the match progressed and finished with 12 shots, out of which 4 were on target; but were outmatched by West Ham in that respect, who managed 18 attempts on goal.
– The solitary goal came courtesy of an Eden Hazard header, only his second headed-goal of this season. It was a beautifully constructed goal, with a ball-in from Ramires and a near-perfect run by Hazard (some might argue that he was a tad offside) to connect with his head, get the all-important goal and break the deadlock in the 22nd minute.
– It is a well observed fact that “small teams” raise their game to another level when they face Chelsea. No better example can be given supporting this fact, than the heroic performance shown by Sam Allardyce’s side on Saturday. The veracity of the matter is that we maintained the lead for 74 minutes despite having faced a bombardment of attack by West Ham.
– This London derby had seen some of the most engaging and entertaining football played by both teams, and for Chelsea to have come out on top and take away all 3 points is something to be really proud of.
– Gary Cahill, after having been through a rather poor run of form, was clearly the standout man for Chelsea. Although Courtois was as courageous as he had ever been and bagged the Man of the Match trophy as a result, I felt that Cahill deserves a bigger shout-out, because his ways of denying the opposition added more value to the final outcome.
Here is assessing his game and why he was invaluable for us:
– Big Sam’s West Ham United have scored 15 headed goals this season. This indeed implies that Chelsea were wary and cautious of the corners they received. Cahill adapted really good positions in every corner set piece and either got the ball out of danger or stood firmly behind the advancing Courtois when his marker took a shot inside the box.
– Cahill won 93% of the 14 aerial battles he took part in. This was in various areas on the pitch. So he moves around while marking his opponent; and won the oncoming air-ball 13 out of 14 times and regained possession for his team on most occasions. Brilliant display from the Englishman.
– Among all the midweek fixtures, Cahill won the highest number of aerial duels:
– The center-back made a jaw-dropping 22 clearances (10 inside the box) and managed to save his side from the attacking prowess of West Ham.
ZOUMA vs. CAHILL:
Mourinho preferred to play Kurt Zouma over Cahill in the recent few fixtures. This was as a result of Cahill’s muddled performances in recent few matches. But this game proved to be a comeback for Cahill in the truest sense of the word.
– Zouma has a tackle success rate of 60%, while Cahill’s has 78%.
– Cahill has a high interception rate of 96% in the 23 games he’s played this season, while Zouma has a comparatively low 80%.
This shows that Cahill is better than Zouma at reading the game. But that’s just out of Cahill’s experience as a center-back. Remember, Zouma is only 20 years old, while Cahill is 29.
– Zouma won 85% of aerial duels, while Cahill has won 69%.
This stat does not point out to the minor height difference between them, but to the superior jumping capability of Zouma. It might be observed that Cahill can jump and win the ball too, but apparently not as well as Zouma.
THE PIVOTAL 3 POINTS
These points will go a long way in Chelsea’s quest for the Premier League title. It maintains the 5-point lead over Man City and also imposes how dominant Chelsea have been from the start of the season, having been in the lead from the start of this season (even for a while in January when Chelsea only had an alphabetical order advantage over City in the table!) and doing ever so well to maintain the lead for about 6 months.
The Blues now have 9 games remaining in the Premier League, with some big games left: Arsenal and QPR away; and United at home. But as we’ve come to notice, the small games are equally hard.
Chelsea’s next game is the much-awaited home fixture for the second leg of ‘Round of 16’ Champions League against PSG; on March 12, 2015 at 1:15 am IST. The Blues have an away goal advantage and should be able to finish things off with a win at the Bridge.
Where’s the confidence coming from? Just look at how well we’re playing!
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Edited By: Ankur Bhatt