West Ham beats Chelsea behind surprise star Martin
West Ham United got a massive win, easing some of the pressure on manager Manuel Pellegrini with a 1-0 defeat of Chelsea on Saturday at Stamford Bridge.
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It was a second-straight league loss for the Blues, whose 26 points are six better than fifth place Spurs.
West Ham’s win moves it all the way up to 13th with 16 points.
Three things we learned
1. Martin’s long awaited debut ends in tears (the good kind): David Martin had made 346 senior appearances in his career, 282 in League One, before being called upon by Manuel Pellegrini for a woeful West Ham facing dangerous Chelsea. It went incredibly well for the 33-year-old, with an emotional Martin lifted off the turf by his teammates after a six-save appearance. He wasn’t just a good story, he was the easy Man of the Match. 1-for-1.
The phrase “Look what it means to him” is incredibly over-used, but first perfectly here.
2: Pulisic Watch: American winger Christian Pulisic showed good interplay with Olivier Giroud and was dangerous enough on the day, though his impact waned in the second half as the Blues focused on Willian and the right side of the attack. Based on form, you would’ve expected him to score a difficult back post volley that served as his most promising chance to score a goal. Five shots and six successful dribbles show he was far from the problem, but a 1-0 loss hurts more when you’re a star attacker.
3. No passengers as Irons back their boss: West Ham was not supposed to be struggling in the bottom half this season, and Manuel Pellegrini appeared on the brink well before this match. He showed the guts to sit struggling star striker Sebastien Haller, and Michail Antonio was a force up top (even if his goal was pulled back by VAR). Who knows how long of a stay this earned Pellegrini, but it was certainly earned with solid performances from his Starting XI.
Christian Pulisic was lively again for Chelsea, and spun away from a defender in the 21st minute to see his attempted 1-2 with Olivier Giroud bound back onto his path, his shot attempt blocked by a sliding West Ham defender.
It was the same two Blues combining late for a possible penalty shout, as Pulisic thought he won one when his 1-2 with Olivier Giroud struck Fabian Balbuena’s arm, but no call arrived.
West Ham then went in front through Cresswell, who came forward from his left back position to lash a shot across goal that beat Kepa Arrizabalaga to the far post.
Frank Lampard pulled off Jorginho and Pedro in the 63rd in favor of N’Golo Kante and Willian.
West Ham looked to have made it 2-0 when Robert Snodgrass drove around Willian and crossed over Kurt Zouma, but VAR saw that the ball bound off Michail Antonio’s arm and into the goal.