5 talking points – Chelsea vs West Ham

1. Conte is ready for the fight

In typical Antonio Conte style, Chelsea showed intensity and structure in their 2-1 win over West Ham United in their league opener. He, like Bilic, dictated his technical area, evaluating his team, trying to squeeze every bit of energy and skill out of them – and this reflected in their performance. His side were energetic, and precise in their plan; though they didn’t set the world alight with attacking endeavor, there were certainly signs of more to come.

2. Slaven Bilic isn’t flawless

Hammers love him, but Super Slaven Bilic got things wrong last night, no two ways about it. Firstly, he set up too defensively. He played a 4-1-4-1, which left Andy Carroll isolated when West Ham were being pinned back. His choices of Ayew, and particularly Valencia on the wings didn’t compliment Carroll as they are not instinctive crossers of the ball. The selection of Valencia in general was a strange one, him being largely anonymous in the game, and never being able to utilise his natural pace. Performances like that one perhaps show why his days as an iron are well and truly numbered. His leaving out of arguably his best centre back, Ogbonna , and choice to play one of his star wingers, Michail Antonio at right back also raised eyebrows; especially when he’d have been the perfect man to be feeding Carroll tempting crosses to attack.

3. Eden Hazard is back

The brightest spark in the game, Eden Hazard really looked back to his magnificent best. A dreadful campaign last time out should only spur him to prove the critics wrong, and put up the sort of numbers we know he can.┬áHis performance will have whet the appetite of Chelsea fans, and rightly so. He ran the show out wide, gliding past opposition defenders with ease, really earning his penalty goal which he fired just under Adrian’s crossbar. That goal should be the springboard to Hazard getting 25+ goals and assists this season, and cementing himself as one of the league’s greatest spectacles.

4. Payet makes the Hammers tick

No doubt the introduction of Dimitri Payet inspired Slaven Bilic’s side. He began to pass the ball with purpose and precision, unlike prior to him coming on when West Ham could barely string two passes together. The flat midfield Bilic originally opted to deploy was transformed on his arrival, so for that and many other reasons I’m sure the Premier League eagerly awaits to see whether Payet can deliver again after his stunning debut season in claret and blue. I’m sure he won’t disappoint.

5. Injuries hindered West Ham

With a large injury list made even larger by Ayew’s hamstring problem, West Ham’s medical team will be surely working across the clock to ensure their star men are fit and firing for their first home game against Bournemouth. The absences of Feghouli, Lanzini and most notably Cresswell told as the Irons looked rather dull for large parts of the game. With the former two looking to likely to be back soon, West Ham fans can rest easy that last night was only a blip in what will be a huge first season for them at the Olympic Stadium.

Will Pocock


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