Fan blogger Joe Difford looks back at Saturday's win over Chelsea...
Having beaten Arsenal, Liverpool and Manchester City, there was a sense of optimism surrounding our game with Chelsea that we haven’t seen in recent years.
A six game unbeaten run had propelled us into the top four, and the way we are playing, that could be the case for some time.
Home form hasn’t come as naturally as away this season, but within 15 minutes it was clear that the occasion was enough for the Hammers, and we flew out of the blocks and put the Blues on the back foot straight away .
A Dimitri Payet free kick was agonisingly close to creeping in, but Asmir Begovic tipped it over for a corner.
The resulting corner sent the Boleyn Ground into a frenzy, as Payet delivered a typically perfect ball, which was poorly defended, falling to Mauro Zarate who struck a wonderful half-volley low into the corner.
It was expected that Bilic would opt for a deep defensive line, set up for counter attacking football, but what we saw in the first half at Upton Park was fluid, confident passing and possession, as West Ham gave the visitors no time to settle.
In fact, Chelsea had the ball in the back of the net as a result of a counter attack themselves, but the linesman flagged Cesc Fabregas as offside, albeit narrowly.
It was certainly a half of close calls for the visitors, as Manuel Lanzini cleared the ball off the line, before replays showed that the ball was no more than an inch and a half from being a goal. Hammers fans all around the country felt the benefits of goal line technology for the first time this season.
As the half drew to a close, an incisive Cheikhou Kouyate breakaway was thwarted by a cynical Nemanja Matic foul, forcing the referee to show what was to be one of many yellow cards to Jose Mourinho’s ill-disciplined men.
On the brink of half time, Matic saw red again, it more ways than one. Being beaten on the overlap, he saw fit to pull Diafra Sakho to the ground, in a challenge that would have probably been applauded later in the day, at Twickenham.
Frustration was setting in for Chelsea, and their assistant manager was also sent to the stands after walking onto the pitch to vent his anger at the decision.
Things went from bad to worse for the away side, as Jose Mourinho didn’t emerge after the half time break, having been sent off.
His lack of presence didn’t seem to matter however, as a corner was poorly defended, allowing Gary Cahill to smash home, levelling the score.
It took a while for us to wake up for the final 45, but once we did, we were in complete control.
With the Blues pegged back in their half, chance after chance was created, before substitute Andy Carroll stepped up as the hero, after a terrible battle with injury.
With Roy Hodgson conveniently in the stands, Aaron Cresswell whipped in a cross which Carroll met perfectly, looping the ball into the far corner and causing the sold out stands to erupt in ecstasy.
We are now third in the Premier League, and show no signs of slowing down. The win against Chelsea showed that it isn’t just away form we have in our locker, but that we can beat any team in the league.
With Andy Carroll back scoring and Alex Song and Enner Valencia still to return, Bilic’s dream start can continue a little while longer.
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