Friday 26th December 2014
Chelsea vs West Ham United
Chelsea on Boxing Day. This is the sort of game that epitomises English football.
The Boxing Day fixture. London derby. Galacticos vs Underdogs. Split family loyalties. Huge bragging rights. And this year, it's a top four clash.
Uncles, Aunts and Cousins of mine are firm Chelsea fans, and the annual pilgrimage to see the family over the holidays will centre around this. And that's what football is all about for me.
Where do you start? Man to man, Chelsea are the best side in the country, and probably up in the top 5 in the world at the moment. Every single spot in their starting XI is a player who is capable of winning you a game on his day.
But there are a few that shine even brighter than the rest. Nemanja Matic has been a phenomenon since returning to West London in January, Diego Costa has shown his lethal touch on 12 occasions this season already, and John Terry's performances are arguably the best of his career.
I've been having a debate in my head about who to focus on out of Chelsea's two best players, but the fact that Eden Hazard may miss the game after limping off against Stoke City last night has forced my hand.
Cesc Fabregas has been an utter revelation since joining the Blues. He's got 12 Premier League assists in his first 16 games, and has a further 3 in the Champions League. In his total 22 league and European performances, he's created 72 chances.
The man is a genius, and he showed it again on Monday night.
Against Stoke, Fabregas ran the show, creating the first and scoring the second. The images below illustrate his game perfectly. The heat map on the left shows that the Spaniard moves all over the middle third of the pitch, popping up in pockets of space all over the park, without getting into the box too often.
And you can see from the chances he created (right) that he doesn't need to get too far forward to cause damage. He is a master of the defence splitting through ball from deep, and allowing him any space in the midfield is suicidal.
Whoever it is who marks Fabregas on Friday, they will need to be right on top of their game.
How do you stop Chelsea?
The real answer to that question is that you don't.
Chelsea have lost one game all season, and have drawn three league games. But none of those have been at Stamford Bridge. This season, they have won every home league game they have played. Last season, they won 15 out of 19, drawing three (obviously, one was against us) and losing to Sunderland in April.
The only time they have failed to win at home this season was their Champions League opener against Schalke.
The Germans did what most visitors do at the Bridge, worked incredibly hard, hoped for a bit of luck, and took their chance when it came. The image below shows their tackles on the day. Schalke attempted 42 tackles, which is big anyway, but massive for a European game.
On top of this, they also made 24 interceptions, 38 clearances and blocked 5 shots.
As I said, they also took their opportunity. Chelsea dominated much of the game, and were pressing for a second goal when Klaas-Jan Huntelaar nicked the ball in the middle of his own half, and he and Julian Draxler sprung a lightning quick counter attack to snatch a point. The image below shows how quickly they broke and scored.
If West Ham can frustrate the Blues enough to draw them out of position on Boxing Day, quick counter attacking led by the likes of Diafra Sakho, Enner Valencia and the two fullbacks could be the order of the day.
Chelsea don't really have any weaknesses, particularly at home. However, if you were going to pick anything as their main flaw, it would probably be England centre back Gary Cahill.
Whilst Cahill is one half of probably the best centre back pairing in the division, he is capable of costly lapses in concentration. So far this season, Cahill has made four defensive errors in his 17 appearances, twice as many as the next highest by a Chelsea player.
This is a recent introduction to Cahill's game, as he made no defensive errors in 30 appearances last season, and just two in 26 the year before. The main change in circumstance since then has been the departure of David Luiz, and the subsequent loss of any real threat to his position.
Perhaps the England centre half is getting complacent, perhaps he's just had a couple of dodgy moments. Whatever it is, he is the most likely of the Chelsea side to give anything away, and West Ham must look to exploit him as often as possible.
The say a lot can change very quickly in football, and it certainly has since we last played Chelsea. It must've been a good couple of centuries since our last visit to the Bridge, and both sides are much better outfits than our last trip west.
It's unlikely that we will head home with anything to show on Friday evening, but if we can keep Fabregas quiet, hope that Hazard doesn't make it, and pounce on the potential gaps in their defence, who knows?
Head to Head
39% Head to Head Win % 39%
53 Won 53
29 Drawn 29
53 Lost 53
229 Goals Scored 242
242 Goals Conceded 229
Recent Form (excl. Friendlies)
W L W W W W Last 6 L W W W D W
14 Goals Scored 10
4 Goals Conceded 5
W W W W W W Home/Away Form L W D L W D
18 Goals Scored 10
2 Goals Conceded 9
Form Player (excl. GK)
(Last 6 League)
Cesc Fabregas - Andy Carroll
5 Appearances 6
436 Minutes Played 515
40.9 Sum WhoScored Performance Score 46.4
8.2 Average WhoScored Performance Rating 7.7
484 Passes Attempted 201
414 Completed 123
86% Success Rate 61%
21 Chances Created 6
3 Assists 1
5 Attempts on Goal 18
4 On Target 6
1 Goals 3
3 Take Ons Attempted 4
1 Successful Take Ons 1
33% Success Rate 25%
33 Tackles Made 4
20 Successful Tackles 1
61% Success Rate 25%
1 Interceptions 5
5 Clearances 14
0 Blocks 0
1 Defensive Actions Per Game 3
8 Aerial Duels 109
4 Won 73
50% Success Rate 67%
0 Defensive Errors 0
0 Leading to a Goal 0
29 January 2014
4-2-3-1 Starting Formation 4-2-3-1
Petr Cech - Adrián
Branislav Ivanovic - Guy Demel
Gary Cahill - James Collins
John Terry - James Tomkins
(63') Cesar Azpilicueta - Joey O'Brien (90')
(63') Jon Obi Mikel - Mark Noble
Ramires - Matthew Taylor
Willian - Stewart Downing
(80') Oscar - Kevin Nolan (80')
Eden Hazard - Mohamed Diamé (30')
Samuel Eto'o - Andy Carroll (64')
Mark Schwarzer - Jussi Jääskeläinen
David Luiz - George McCartney
Ashley Cole - Ravel Morrison
(63') Frank Lampard - Antonio Nocerino (80')
(63') Nemanja Matic - Matt Jarvis (30')
Andre Schurrle - Carlton Cole (64')
(80') Demba Ba - Marco Borriello
Chelsea: Eden Hazard
West Ham United: Mark Noble
West Ham United:
Opposition Last Time Out (League)
vs Stoke City
Goals Scored: 2
Goals Conceded: 0
Starting Formation: 4-2-3-1
Branislav Ivanovic Gary Cahill John Terry Cesar Azpilicueta
Jon Obi Mikel Nemanja Matic
Willian (80') Cesc Fabregas Eden Hazard (92')
Diego Costa (85')
Kurt Zouma (92')
Andre Schurrle (80')
Didier Drogba (85')
Best Player: Cesc Fabregas(SR: 8.9)
Worst Player: Diego Costa(SR: 6.4)
Top 5's (Min 5 Apps)
Diego Costa 12 - 7 Diafra Sakho
Eden Hazard 6 - 4 Stewart Downing
Didier Drogba 3 - 3 Andy Carroll
Oscar 3 - 3 Enner Valencia
Loic Remy 2 - 2 Mauro Zárate
Cesc Fabregas 12 - 6 Stewart Downing
Oscar 5 - 2 Enner Valencia
Eden Hazard 3 - 2 Diafra Sakho
Ramires 3 - 2 Carl Jenkinson
Nemanja Matic 2 - 2 Cheikhou Kouyaté
John Terry 91% - 86% Mark Noble
Jon Obi Mikel 91% - 85% Stewart Downing
Eden Hazard 89% - 84% Mauro Zárate
Cesc Fabregas 88% - 82% Winston Reid
Nemanja Matic 88% - 80% Morgan Amalfitano
Chances Created per 90
Cesc Fabregas 2.61 - 2.88 Stewart Downing
Eden Hazard 2.42 - 1.31 Mauro Zárate
Didier Drogba 2.35 - 1.26 Mark Noble
Diego Costa 1.84 - 1.1 Alex Song
Oscar 1.61 - 1.05 Diafra Sakho
Successful Dribbles per 90
Eden Hazard 4.72 - 2.4 Mauro Zárate
Willian 2.11 - 1.8 Enner Valencia
Loic Remy 1.59 - 1.7 Alex Song
Nemanja Matic 1.56 - 1.26 Diafra Sakho
Ramires 1.5 - 0.87 Morgan Amalfitano
Tackles Won per 90
Filipe Luis 3.47 - 2.62 Mark Noble
Andre Shurrle 3.05 - 2.6 Alex Song
Cesar Azpilicueta 2.88 - 2.44 Cheikhou Kouyaté
Nemanja Matic 2.58 - 1.52 James Tomkins
Branislav Ivanovic 2.29 - 1.46 Carl Jenkinson
Aerial Duels Won per 90
Didier Drogba 3.52 - 12.83 Andy Carroll
Branislav Ivanovic 3.06 - 4.8 James Collins
Gary Cahill 2.61 - 4.64 James Tomkins
John Terry 2.47 - 3.45 Diafra Sakho
Andre Schurrle 2.35 - 3.17 Carlton Cole
Jose Mourinho - Sam Allardyce
26/01/1963 DOB 19/10/1954
51 Age 60
Sesimbra Main Club Bolton Wanderers
35 Appearances 231
1 Goals 24
4 Total Clubs 9
94 Appearances 512
13 Goals 43
Portugal National Team England
0 Caps 0
Benfica First Managerial Role Preston North End
20/09/2000 Start Date 30/09/1992
14y 3m 5d Experience 22y 2m 25d
6 Sides Managed 7
7 League Titles 2
13 Cup Wins 0
67.4% Win % 40%
480 Won 358
140 Drawn 235
92 Lost 302
Longest Role (excl. Current)
Chelsea Club Bolton Wanderers
02/06/2004 Appointed 19/10/1999
20/09/2007 Left 29/04/2007
3y 3m 17d Time in Charge 7y 6m 9d
2 League Titles 0
4 Cup Wins 0
67.0% Win % 41.2%
124 Won 153
40 Drawn 104
21 Lost 114
03/06/2013 Appointed 01/06/2011
1y 6m 23d Time in Charge 3y 6m 25d
0 League Titles 0
0 Cup Wins 0
66.2% Win % 41.2%
55 Won 64
15 Drawn 36
13 Lost 55