From the London Stadium – A litany of individual errors saw Chelsea’s indifferent recent form catch up with them as they suffered a damaging late defeat to West Ham United on Saturday – one which will likely see them surrender top spot in the Premier League.
It is far too soon for Thomas Tuchel’s meticulous coaching methods to be called into question, but this represented the third match in a row where he was let down by lapses from some of his most trusted lieutenants.
While the Blues had escaped punishment for poor mistakes in the draw against Manchester United and the narrow victory over Watford – where Jorginho and Ruben Loftus-Cheek were the culprits respectively – they were ruthlessly punished by a vivacious Hammers side at the London Stadium.
Chelsea had controlled the early stages and eventually took the lead when Thiago Silva rose to head Mason Mount’s corner in off the post on the half-hour mark. It seemed they had a hold on the game, but their hard work was undone by another careless piece of play by Jorginho.
Less than a week after gifting Jadon Sancho possession in the build-up to the Man Utd winger’s strike in the 1-1 draw at Stamford Bridge, the Italy international under-hit a back-pass to Edouard Mendy, who – having initially managed to hold off the pressure of Jarrod Bowen – lost the ball and compounded Jorginho’s lapse by scything down the attacker to concede a penalty.
That two-in-one comedy of errors was rounded off by Manuel Lanzini stepping up to fire the penalty home and bring the Hammers level.
Chelsea were able to restore their lead on the stroke of half-time through Mount’s excellent volley from a pinpoint diagonal pass from Hakim Ziyech.
However, despite once again appearing to have a degree of control over proceedings, the visitors conceded a second leveller ten minutes after the break as West Ham were able to move the ball from back to front under very little pressure and Bowen rifled home from the edge of he box unchallenged.
While Chelsea had been able to find the goals they needed against both Man Utd and Watford, they barely threatened after the equaliser, with West Ham instead applying the pressure. Although the hosts had no clear openings, it was another individual lapse that handed them a dramatic late winner.
Arthur Masuaku’s mishit cross was misjudged by Mendy, and he was unable to get across in time to stop the ball flying inside the near post to make it 3-2 to the hard-working Hammers.
This a defeat that will inevitably see Chelsea knocked off the top of the Premier League, but no team can expect to be crowned champions when they are making such costly mistakes on regular basis.
That is something Tuchel recognised in his post-match press conference.
“I think the performance is enough to win the game but what we clearly see is we give easy goals away, this is very unusual. We do this now since three match days against United, Watford and today,” he said.
“If you do this at this level you cannot expect to have a result. We are not good enough in the details at the moment. This is a game if you play West Ham, it is about the details. You cannot do big mistakes.
“We are far, far away from blaming anybody but we need to admit that we are making too many crucial mistakes at the moment.”
Although the usual fixture congestion and mounting injuries will take their toll, Chelsea’s festive schedule is relatively forgiving, meaning opportunities to put things right will come thick and fast.
What is abundantly clear is that Tuchel must iron out these errors before a much tougher run in the new year, especially with Man City and Liverpool hitting their stride.