Chelsea beat West Ham 1-0 in a Premier League encounter on Saturday to massively boost their hopes of securing a top-four finish.
Chelsea beat West Ham 1-0 in a Premier League encounter on Saturday to massively boost their hopes of securing a top-four finish. Timo Werner scored what turned out to be the winner for the Blues just before half-time. Yet the talking point will be another controversial decision that revolved – at least indirectly – the Video Assistant Referee (VAR). Despite a looming Champions League semi-final against Real Madrid, Thomas Tuchel picked a strong starting line-up. Jorginho and N’Golo Kante began in midfield, with Mason Mount and Christian Pulisic either side of Timo Werner up front. West Ham lined up in a 3-4-2-1 to match Chelsea’s three-man defensive set-up, with Jesse Lingard and Jarred Bowen on the flanks with Pablo Fornals down the middle for West Ham.
The game started with both sides being cautious rather than cavalier with their approach. However, it was the away side who began to grow into the game.
Therefore it came as little surprise when Werner slotted home at the stroke of half-time. He met a cross from Ben Chilwell and tapped a simple finish home.
The second half saw West Ham come out on the front foot, eager to get a goal back. As such Chelsea retreated back and defended deep.
West Ham had plenty of the ball but were often denied by a stubborn Chelsea defence. Werner didn’t help things by missing a couple of glit-edged chances, showing his turnaround in form is still a work-in-progress.
Yet the moment that arguably killed the game came around 10 minutes from time.
Fabian Balbuena caught Chilwell in the midst of a clearance. VAR took a look at the foul and told referee Chris Kavanagh to take a look using the pitch-side monitor.
The referee did so and, much to the chagrin of West Ham’s players, sent Balbuena off. The decision looked harsh as it appeared the defender caught Chilwell only on the follow-through; there was no malice in the challenge.
However, the game looked done at that point. Tuchel made a series of changes in a bid to keep things fresh, yet one got the sense he didn’t need to.
West Ham were deflated, and the remaining minutes of the match were played out as a mere formality – despite Chelsea substitute Tammy Abraham missing an empty goal late on.