From the Newsroom - Matty Lawless

The Mail Online's Matty Lawless blogs on last night's game

The Mail Online's Matty Lawless writes...

It didn't come as a surprise when Jose Mourinho announced his plans to sleep-in until midday today after last night’s thriller.

The relief of Chelsea’s manager was palpable. After the final whistle, he joined his players on their triumphant march towards the away end in the Sir Trevor Brooking lower. 

Mourinho nor his players went over-the-top in their jubilation. Yet, in truth, they would have been forgiven for celebrating like they had just won the league. The likelihood is that the 1-0 win over West Ham will probably propel them to title. But boy, were they made to work hard for it. No wonder Mourinho, fresh from his Capital One Cup success too, punched the air in delight.

His counterpart, Sam Allardyce, might have been excused if he’d have punched a wall, however.

A wretched run of one win in 11 Barclays Premier League games continues for West Ham. From top four day dreamers at Christmas they have sunk to tenth place. Any lingering hopes of European football will fade and die at this rate.

But this defeat was certainly not one to be alarmed by. West Ham didn’t look like a team in freefall.
Granted, they did against Crystal Palace. Not here against Chelsea, though. Certainly not in the second half.

The opening 45 minutes served as a reminder as to why Chelsea comfortably cruised five points clear at the summit.

They played at high intensity, executed slick tiki-taka-esque passing, their movement in the final third was intelligent, their defending resolute and they were well-organised throughout. Eden Hazard’s 22nd minute-winning header was deserved for their efforts - even if it was fractionally offside.

Yet West Ham responded magnificently. They deserved a draw. And Mourinho knew it.

“I want to sleep tomorrow until midday,’ he said last night. 

“Today, easily you lose two points.”

The experience and leadership of Kevin Nolan was a welcome boost for West Ham. The captain produced a fine performance to silence any of his doubters. It was arguably his best of the season so far.

Nolan helped break down Chelsea in the central battleground and compensated for the outstanding Cheikhou Kouyate to probe through the middle.

It was a pity that his night was ended after a nasty collision with John Terry. He may have made the difference in the final moments of the game.

Adrian was again in inspired form but would have been disappointed by the manner of  how easy Chelsea managed to carve open his defence to complete a close-range winner. The best teams simply don’t require an invitation from six-yards out.

Ultimately that proved to be the deciding factor of the game. From the same range, Diafra Sakho was guilty of wasting West Ham’s best opportunity.

Prolific upon his arrival, he was profligate last night. How he needs a goal to restore his lethal confidence again.

It will come soon, no doubt, as will West Ham’s next win. Maybe not at the Emirates next weekend. After all, it has been eight years since the Hammers' last win over Arsenal.

But the signs of a good end to the season are no less promising for the claret and blue faithful.

Allardyce not only craves a performance but  a performance with victory. On the evidence of last night’s display, they deserve one. And will get one.

Of West Ham’s remaining eight games, following next Saturday’s fourth consecutive London derby, only Manchester City away in April looks to be the most troubling of all.

So there is hope and the applause - not jeers - at the final whistle from the home faithful was indicative that the season isn’t over yet and a top seven, top eight finish is not out of West Ham’s reach.

Now, could someone go and wake up, Jose, please...

Matty Lawless
Mail Online

The views in this article are those of the author and not necessarily those of West Ham United