Hammers keep it tight at Chelsea

Chelsea 0-0 West Ham United
Barclays Premier League

West Ham United stood firm to gain a valuable point at Chelsea on Wednesday night.

Title-chasing Chelsea had a near-monopoly on possession but could not force a way through as the Hammers defended for their lives.

Other than a James Tomkins header which Petr Cech saved, Chelsea had all the opportunities, but most of them came from range as they found it difficult to break West Ham down.

Despite their pressure, Chelsea could not manage a breakthrough as the Hammers rediscovered a solidity at the back in timely fashion.

There were places on the bench for West Ham's new arrivals Antonio Nocerino and Marco Borriello, while Joey O'Brien and Guy Demel returned from injury to fill the full-back positions.

Andy Carroll was also handed his first Barclays Premier League start of the season, and he had an early shout for a penalty when he went down under Cesar Azpilicueta's challenge after he controlled Stewart Downing's cross at the far post.

At the other end, Chelsea were inches away from taking a ninth minute lead when Oscar arced a shot towards goal, but Adrian got fingertips to the ball to touch it on to the crossbar.

West Ham responded with a chance of their own three minutes later when they won a free-kick down the left and Downing delivered for Tomkins, who headed back across goal and forced a parry from Petr Cech. The ball ricocheted off Kevin Nolan, who was in close attendance, but slid wide of the post.

That turned out to be the Hammers' only chance of the opening period as Chelsea established a stranglehold on possession.

Sam Allardyce's men remained sturdy in defence, though, and restricted their hosts to shots from range before the half-time whistle.

Willian fired over after working space 25 yards out on 15 minutes, while Samuel Eto'o shot too high under pressure from James Tomkins.

Ramires drilled just over the angle of post and crossbar and Chelsea's best first half opening fell to John Terry moments before the break, but Adrian saved with his feet after the Blues captain got up to meet a Willian corner.

The second half started in much the same vein with Gary Cahill heading too high from another Willian dead ball delivery.

Eden Hazard shot wide from a tight angle after a good spell of Chelsea ball retention ended with Willian threading a ball through to the Belgian.

The Hammers continued to throw their bodies in the way of everything, with James Collins in particular making a number of important blocks.

Adrian gathered another Oscar shot from outside the box as the home side's desperation for a goal grew.

But, thanks in large part to an heroic defensive display, and a last gasp Adrian save from Adrian, it would not arrive as the Hammers held out to make their point.

Chelsea: Cech; Ivanovic, Cahill, Terry, Azpilicueta (Matic 63); Ramires, Mikel (Lampard 63); Willian, Oscar (Ba 79), Hazard; Eto'o
Subs: Schwarzer, A.Cole, Luiz, Schurrle

Booked: Ramires

West Ham United: Adrian; Demel, Collins, Tomkins, O'Brien; Nolan (Nocerino 80), Noble, Taylor' Diame (Jarvis 30), Carroll (C.Cole 64), Downing
Subs: Jaaskelainen, McCartney, Morrison, Borriello

Booked: O'Brien, Taylor, Nolan

Referee: Neil Swarbrick

Attendance: 41,376