Our winning start to the season came to an end in east London as we couldn’t break the Hammers down and had to settle for a point.
It might have been worse had Andriy Yarmolenko headed the game’s best chance into the net, rather than wide, with 15 minutes remaining. In the first half Kepa Arrizabalaga had impressively denied Michail Antonio the opening goal.
The Blues plugged away throughout, again dominating possession, but found clear sights of goal at a premium. Sub Alvaro Morata had our best chance and was unlucky to see it thump against Lukasz Fabianski’s face.
So it’s back across town with a point ahead of two dates with Liverpool in the next week.
Maurizio Sarri selected a team that closely resembled our previous league line-ups, so back came David Luiz, Mateo Kovacic and Eden Hazard. Willian started with Pedro not in the matchday squad following the knock he picked up very late on in our midweek assignment in Greece. Olivier Giroud completed the attacking trio, and another returnee, Cesar Azpilicueta, captained.
West Ham were without the injured Marko Arnautovic, responsible for three of the Hammers’ five league goals so far this season. He also netted the winner in the corresponding fixture last time out.
The opening 10 minutes passed without much goalmouth action but plenty of Chelsea possession, a recurring theme under Sarri’s Blues. Some neat interplay and a first-time backheel from Willian gave the in-form Hazard his first sight of goal on 12 minutes, but Lukasz Fabianski got down low to save.
The Hammers were clearly happy to contain with numbers behind the ball and plenty of attention paid to Hazard. Patience would be required.
Our hosts hadn’t offered much by way of an attacking threat but they created the best two chances so far either side of the half-hour mark. The first was set up by the dangerous Felipe Anderson and fired over by Antonio; the lone striker hit the target with the second after Yarmolenko caused problems, but Kepa stood tall and blocked the point-blank shot.
Having briefly looked rattled, we regained our composure and finished the half the stronger, conjuring up our clearest opening yet moments before the interval. Willian cushioned Hazard’s long diagonal across the six-yard box towards N’Golo Kante, who glanced his header wide under pressure from Issa Diop.
When play restarted, Yarmolenko tried to repeat his two-goal heroics at Goodison Park last weekend after cutting inside on to his favoured left foot, but Kepa watched it zip safely over his bar.
Down the other end, on 55 minutes, David Luiz ballooned a free header over from Willian’s corner.
Seeking to freshen things up as his side continued to probe away looking for a gap in the West Ham backline, Sarri introduced Alvaro Morata for Olivier Giroud with a quarter of the game remaining.
It nearly paid instant dividends. Willian slipped Hazard in, who rather than shooting backheeled in the direction of Morata before the ball was hacked clear. From the resulting corner, played short, Kante’s cross bounced off David Luiz into Morata’s path. His close-range dinked effort smashed into Fabianski’s face and away.
Antonio Rudiger’s afternoon was brought to a premature end by injury so on came Gary Cahill for his first appearance of the season. Twenty minutes remained.
Half of our league goals this term had come in the final quarter-hour of games, but we really should have conceded in that time as sub Robert Snodgrass’s cross delivered a perfect cross for the unmarked Yarmolenko. Much to the surprise of everyone in the London Stadium, the Ukrainian headed wide with the goal gaping.
Kante fired a presentable chance past the post with 10 to play after Willian burst away down the left.
As we entered stoppage time, sub Ross Barkley forced a fine one-handed save from Fabianski with a 25-yarder, and then Willian flashed an effort across goal which Morata wasn’t far away from turning in. It proved the last opportunity as the spoils were fairly shared.
Chelsea (4-3-3): Arrizabalaga; Azpilicueta (c), David Luiz, Rudiger (Cahill 69), Alonso; Kante, Jorginho, Kovacic (Barkley 79); Willian, Giroud (Morata 65), Hazard.
Unused subs Caballero, Zappacosta, Fabregas, Moses.
Booked Kante 50
West Ham (4-5-1): Fabianski; Zabaleta, Balbuena, Diop, Masuaku; Rice; Yarmolenko, Noble (c) (Sanchez 85), Obiang, Anderson (Snodgrass 73); Antonio (Perez 65).
Unused subs Adrian, Cresswell, Ogbonna, Fredericks.
Booked Anderson 52, Snodgrass 90+3
Referee Mike Dean.