Manuel Pellegrini was heartened by his West Ham United team’s second half performance at Chelsea on Monday, but was frustrated that the improvement only came after an opening period which dropped below their standards.
Chelsea took advantage of their lightning start with a wonderful individual goal from Eden Hazard, when the Belgian ran through four West Ham challenges to slot past Lukasz Fabianski.
In truth, the advantage could have been greater at the break, but the visitors regrouped and gave Maurizio Sarri’s team something to think about in the second period, with Manuel Lanzini forcing a good save from Kepa before Aaron Cresswell lashed a left-footed wide inches wide of the far post.
It wasn’t until the final minute that Eden Hazard wrapped up the points and Pellegrini reflected that on another day the Hammers’ increased intensity after half time could have yielded a point.
“We improved a lot in the second half,” he explained, “We had opportunities, and we could have drawn the game but finally they scored the second goal.
“I think the difference was in the first 45 minutes, that we didn’t start the game with the pace that you need to play [against Chelsea].
“When a player with the quality of Hazard, you know he can make different things. Going between four players is not easy, so maybe we could have been more aggressive. That was our attitude in the first 45 minutes, in the way we defended that goal and the way we played.
“After that, I think we changed a lot of things, in the pace we played and the part of the pitch we played in too. We played forward and not so close to our box, and we had the chances to draw.”
Pellegrini also revealed after the match that he planned to introduce Samir Nasri at the interval, only for the Frenchman to feel an injury in the warm-up.
He added: “Samir was going to start in the second half but in the warm-up felt a problem in his calf, so he was not confident to play. We’ll see how it is tomorrow.”