The final Premier League match before Christmas saw Chelsea return to winning ways by beating West Ham United 3-0 at Stamford Bridge. A first half header from Thiago Silva and a second half double from Tammy Abraham saw the Blues gain all three points, much needed following a recent run of poor form that saw Frank Lampard's side lose against Everton and Wolverhampton Wanderers.
Chelsea's victory puts them ahead of Tottenham Hotspur to move into 5th position in the league table, while West Ham United remain in 10th place.
Story of the Match
Frank Lampard made three changes to the Chelsea side that lost 2-1 at Molineux against Wolverhampton Wanderers last Tuesday, as Jorginho was brought in to reinforce the midfield in place of Kai Havertz, Cesar Azpilicueta replaced the injured Reece James at right back, and Tammy Abraham replaced Olivier Giroud up front.
West Ham boss David Moyes made two changes from the team that drew 1-1 at home with Crystal Palace last Wednesday, as Issa Diop and Said Benrahma were replaced by Fabian Balbuena and Mark Noble.
It was a nightmare start to the game for Chelsea left back Ben Chilwell, who was playing on his 24th birthday, as he picked up an ankle injury inside the first 10 minutes, and had to be replaced by Emerson Palmieri.
Chelsea then took the lead with only 10 minutes on the clock, as Thiago Silva's header met Mason Mount's corner and the Brazilian directed the ball into the top corner to give Chelsea an early advantage.
West Ham attempted to respond straight away as Aaron Cresswell capitalised on a miscontrolled touch by Cesar Azpilicueta to run in behind the Chelsea defence, only for his shot to go wide of Edouard Mendy's goal.
Chelsea then had a golden chance to double their lead before half time, as Christian Pulisic lead a breakaway to feed Timo Werner, who's tame effort was comfortably saved by Lukas Fabianski.
West Ham dominated possession in the second half as Chelsea looked out of sorts and bereft of ideas, all before Chelsea managed to capitalise on the break on 78 minutes, as Mason Mount passed to Timo Werner on the left hand side of the box, the German moved inside and played in Tammy Abraham to finish neatly past Fabianski to give Chelsea a much needed two goal cushion.
Two became three just minutes later for Chelsea, as Christian Pulisic carried the ball forward to play in Mason Mount, who's cross was floated into the penalty area forcing a collision between Pulisic and Fabianski and allowing the ball to fall to Abraham again to slot home.
Chelsea could have made it four late on, as Timo Werner's shot cannoned off the crossbar having being played in by N'Golo Kante, however the blues can be satisfied as three was enough to get the back to winning ways ahead of their crunch clash with struggling rivals Arsenal on Boxing Day.
The captain's back: Following the disappointing reports from Saturday evening revealing the knee injury recently suffered by young right back Reece James, it gave an opportunity for Chelsea captain Cesar Azpilicueta to come back into the starting XI, and the Spaniard delivered a very strong defensive performance on his return. Tasked with dealing with Pablo Fornals and then substitute Said Benrahma, the experienced full back barely put a foot wrong, putting in some crucial tackles and interceptions, and he showed the passion that had been missing from recent Chelsea performances. While having James out of the side for an extended period will be a blow, if Azpilicueta can keep up this form then that hole will not be as dire for the Blues.
West Ham missed Antonio: In West Ham's two victories over Chelsea last season, the main dangerman in the Hammers side was easily Michail Antonio, and his presence was sorely missed by David Moyes' side in this game. Failing to register a shot on target, the team never really looked like testing Edouard Mendy, and striker Sebastian Haller looked isolated up front. West Ham desperately need Antonio back and fully fit soon if they want to get back to winning ways, as the strength, pace and aerial ability that he offers makes West Ham look a considerably more dangerous side.
A tale of two forwards: In this game there were two notable performances from Chelsea forwards: that of Timo Werner, and that of Tammy Abraham. In Werner, he looked a man short of confidence and composure, fluffing key chances and not trusting his natural ability. However, what he did offer was commitment and effort, playing with his head up and constantly trying to make things happen. On the other hand, in Tammy Abraham, he was very good in front of goal, with fine finishes for both of his goals, however lacked any kind of link up or hold up play. In football, so much is about mentality, and in these two there are two different kinds of mentalities which leads to different levels of form in front of goal, which is mostly regardless of overall footballing ability. With the imminent return to fitness of Hakim Ziyech and Callum Hudson-Odoi, it will be interesting to see what roles Abraham and Werner will occupy against Arsenal and in the coming rush of fixtures over the festive period.