It was quite an interesting weekend in the Barclay’s Premier League with three derbies taking place, two of which we previewed here at Salute. Of the three matches that were previewed for the BPL over the weekend, two were great and one was okay, with moments of good but not great.
WEST HAM UNITED 2 – 1 CHELSEA
First stop is east London and Upton Park for the 2015 leg of the London Derby between West Ham United and Chelsea. When you look at the results from last weekend’s fixtures on ESPN FC, you’ll see that both the Blues and the Hammers secured all three points from their respective matches. West Ham won 3-1 at Crystal Palace and Chelsea beat a struggling Aston Villa side 2-0 at Stamford Bridge.
This week we saw the same Chelsea side that we’ve seen for half the BPL season. A team that has lacked creativity, a team that has played with no real passion and a team that looks like it’s just going through the motions and is doing everything it can to stay above the 18th spot.
West Ham came to play soccer and it showed. They were rarely not in control of the match — and they were certainly in control of their emotions. They might not have had as much possession as Chelsea, but West Ham was in control. The Hammers looked the better team during this entire match. Slaven Bilić has told them that they can beat anybody on any given day and West Ham is going to prove it. They have already beaten Arsenal, Liverpool, Manchester City and now Chelsea.
The Hammers opened up the scoring in the 17th minute off of a corner kick that no one from Chelsea was in a hurry to clear at all, allowing Mauro Karate to strike a low shot through traffic past Asmir Begovic. The Chelsea defenders looked as if they were waiting for someone else to move and clear the ball after it took a bounce toward the back post.
Cess Fàbregas had a goal disallowed for offsides in the 42nd minute, after being fed a beautiful through ball from Willian. Gary Cahill pulled the Blues level in the 56th minute when he hit a right-footed shot off of a Kurt Zouma header on a corner kick.
In the 69th minute Andy Carroll replaced Karate and 10 minutes later Aaron Cresswell lofted a cross into the penalty box that was custom-made for Carroll’s head. Carroll then buried it in the back of the net and put the Hammers up for good.
Chelsea’s disciplinary problems started in the 24th minute when César Azpilicueta was booked for a challenge on Zarate. In the 35th minute, Nemanja Matic was booked for a bad tackle on Cheikhou Kouyaté. Less than 10 minutes later, Matic pulled West Ham’s Biafra Sakho down right in front of the linesman and in sight of the referee. After conferring with the linesman, Matic was sent off. This is where the Blues really got into trouble though. Diego Costa and Fàbregas were shown yellow cards for dissent on the pitch. First team assistant coach Silvino Louro was sent off for protesting Matic’s red card according to the Mirror. And as was covered on Saturday here at Salute, Jose Mourinho was sent off at halftime for allegedly trying to enter the referees’ dressing room.
SkySports reports that the Blues will face an automatic FA fine after receiving seven yellow cards during the loss to the Hammers. Chelsea will also be punished by the BPL because neither Mourinho nor any of his coaching staff fulfilled their post-match media interview requirements.
Cahill was one of the few players to speak with the press after the match. NBCSports quotes Cahill as saying,
“[The mood in the dressing room] is not great – like you’d imagine when you lose games. Last season we weren’t used to it. The lads are devastated You’re left scratching your head sometimes. In the first half the Cesc Fabregas goal could have been given and we had the goal that was nearly over the line. That sums up the way we’re going.”
ARSENAL 2 – 1 EVERTON
It was a rainy, late Saturday afternoon at the Emirates Stadium when Arsenal and Everton faced off. Arsenal continues to have a great run of form in the BPL. The Gunners are unbeaten in the BPL since their loss to Chelsea on Sept. 19. In that run of matches, Arsenal has outscored their opponents 15-4 and this run is putting Arsenal into serious contention for the title.
Olivier Giroud opened up the scoring for the Gunners in the 36th minute when he headed in Mesut Özil‘s cross. Two minutes later, in the 38th minute, Santiago Cazorla whipped in a free kick from just outside the penalty box and Laurent Koscielny beat Everton’s Phil Jagielka and buried the header in the back of the net.
The Toffees answered rather quickly as Ross Barkley was able to find space and fire off a shot that deflected off of Arsenal’s Gabriel Paulista and went the opposite way that goalkeeper Petr Cech was diving.
Giroud had a chance to make it 3-1 Gunners in the 69th minute but saw his shot hit the crossbar instead of going in. In the 79th minute, Romelu Lukaku hit a header that deflected over the crossbar for his best shot of the match.
Both sides had some great chances in the second half but neither one could get the ball in the back of the net. This one would end 2-1 for the Gunners.
Here are the highlights from ESPN FC. Arsenal is level on points with Manchester City and are only trailing them in goal differential.
MANCHESTER UNITED 0 – 0 MANCHESTER CITY
The Manchester Derby (pronounced darby) was billed as a showdown between two great powerhouses: Manchester United and Manchester City. It turned out to be a snooze-fest though — and as I pointed out in the preview — I’m a United supporter. Derby matches mean something. They give you bragging rights over the other team’s supporters until the next meeting but this match only gave you about five thrilling minutes of soccer out of the entire 90 minutes. It was the most boring BPL match I’ve watched all year and was the worst derby match I’ve ever seen, from either side.
Both teams only managed to have one shot on goal each. City’s Aleksandar Kolarov played the ball to Jesus Navas who fired a shot from distance right at United goalkeeper David De Gea in the 82nd minute. In the 88th minute, Marouane Fellaini headed the ball across the penalty box to Chris Smalling who then fired off a shot that was pushed aside by City goalkeeper Joe Hart.
There were plenty of chances by both teams, but they were either sent wide or bounced off the crossbar. In short, the chances were wasted by both teams.
The two managers had different outlooks on the match — and is to be expected. Pellegrini was happy that his side was able to salvage a point and remain top of the league, and Van Gaal was disappointed that the referee didn’t award a foul to Ander Herrera when he thought one should have been awarded.