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Chelsea Fail To Lighten A Dark Day

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West Ham visited Stamford Bridge, where today, was about more than football for the majority in attendance. Prior to kick-off there was an emotional tribute to Ray Wilkins who passed away earlier in the week.

Wilkins featured on the front of the matchday programme, and a new flag, paid for supporters and made in a very short space of time, was unfurled. The minutes applause that immediately preceeded kick-off was observed by both sets of supporters.

With the game underway, the mood in the crowd was sombre, that transferred to the pitch in a lacklustre opening. Antonio Conte`s team selection showed no variation from most other games this season. His reluctance to rotate the squad is odd to say the least.

Eight minutes in, and Ray Wilkins name rang around the ground. Chelsea players had worn his number 8 shirt in the warm-up before the game in tribute. The stadium once again did our former captain proud.

Whilst having the bulk of possession Chelsea looked like a team who`d lost three of their last five games. West Ham were no better and the game was a scrappy one. If there was to be a goal, Cesar Azpilicueta would have been the ideal candidate.

With Gary Cahill missing most of the games this season, Azpi has taken up the mantle of captain. He`s led the team by example and spoke well about Wilkins before the game. Fittingly he did score, and in line with the game, it was a scrappy goal.

A cross by Victor Moses was headed back across the goal by Alvaro Morata for Azpilicueta to stab the ball home. As he wheeled away, he kissed the badge and pointed to the black armband on his sleeve, true Captain material.

Morata himself had the ball in the net during the half, but was called offside. The half didn`t improve as a game, and both sides headed into the break with Chelsea leading by that solitary goal.

Half-time Chelsea 1-0 West Ham

Chelsea came out for the second half and started well but just couldn`t find the opening that would have made the game a more comfortable for the supporters. Once again Morata scored, but once again he was offside…just.

The game lacked the fire of a traditional London derby. I hate to say this, but Chelsea`s players have simply given up. The season is over for them. Their thoughts are either on the beach or on the Russia World Cup. Conte has to take a good deal of the blame for this season`s abysmal defence of their Premier League crown.

The introduction of Javier Hernandez on 70 minutes livened up proceedings and put Chelsea fans hearts in their mouths. The annoying Mexican has been a thorn in the Blues side every time he`s ever played against us, especially when making a cameo substitute appearance.

Our defence were clearly not familiar with his Manchester United past and having been on for just three minutes, they allowed him acres of space to fire past the diving Courtois.

After that the game became more stretched and more derby-esque and either team could have snatched the win, but the Hammer`s looked the likelier.

As it turned out, the game finished 1-1. Ray Wilkins would have blamed Chelsea`s selling of Nemanja Matic and Diego Costa at the start of the season and it would be difficult to argue the point.

This manager and these players have let the club and it`s supporters down, something Ray Wilkins would have never done in a Chelsea shirt. Ultimate blame for this catastrophic season may lie much higher, but those at ground level simply have to do much better.

Full time – Chelsea 1-1 West Ham

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