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6 Things we learned: Chelsea 1-1 West Ham

 • by David Cartlidge
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Substitute Javier Hernández came off the bench to all but end Chelsea‘s top-four hopes by securing a 1-1 draw for West Ham United.

It was another miserable afternoon for Antonio Conte as they fell ten points behind fourth-placed Tottenham in the race for the Champions League.

César Azpilicueta put the Blues ahead in the first time following a short corner before Hernández scored his sixth goal against Chelsea as a substitute to earn the Hammers a vital point in the battle against relegation.

Here are the six key takeaways from the 1-1 draw at Stamford Bridge.

Azpilicueta and Morata combine again…

The Spanish pair linked up once more to devastating effect, only this time it was a case of roles reversed. Azpilicueta was not supplying the bullets for once, and instead his fellow countryman delivered a telling ball for the full-back to fire in.

The two have now linked up on seven separate occasions this season, more than any other combination in the Premier League.

Only Liverpool’s Sadio Mané and Mo Salah have linked up more, emphasising the understanding between the pair and while Álvaro Morata’s time has been mixed since joining in the summer, he has struck up a bond with cult figure Azpi.

Morata had a particularly unlucky afternoon, finding the back of the net twice but being denied by the linesman on both occasions.

Chicharito does what he does best

He may not be a prominent feature for West Ham these days, but from the bench Chicharito still provides some punch. The Mexican striker scored his sixth career goal against the Blues when coming off the bench, continuing a magnificent record.

It came at a key time too, with Chelsea in control of the game and threatening to grind out the three points, Chicharito popped up to change things. In fact, West Ham had just four touches in the Chelsea penalty area prior to his introduction.

Chelsea were caught napping as the former Manchester United man moved sharply to get on the end of a loose ball in the penalty area, before slamming home against one of his favourite opponents. He only had a single shot on goal, but made it count. 

Chicharito looks set to depart West Ham in the summer and if this was one of his final contributions, then there are few better ways to sign off.

Hart gives Southgate food for thought

Joe Hart did not look convincing on the Chelsea opener; he simply watched as the ball went in without making an effort to produce a save. While his defence could’ve been a lot better, particularly Aaron Cresswell, Hart should’ve made more of an attempt to save.

Joe Hart made several key stops to thwart Chelsea

However, Hart responded well and produced a series of stunning saves to keep West Ham in the game, and then protect them at 1-1.

Again, his defence did him no favours and the 29-year-old was forced into a string of superb saves – five in total. One particularly impressive stop saw Marcos Alonso’s pile-driver turned away spectacularly. He then bettered it to deny Olivier Giroud with a deft header late on.

The dream of being England’s No.1 in Russia remains alive and on this evidence Gareth Southgate will be mightily impressed.

Arnautović at unplayable best

The big Austrian has been in terrific form of late and had his manager, David Moyes, purring ahead of kick-off while also insisting he can improve vastly with more high-level training.

Maybe Arnautović has taken the training up a level already then, as he produced another talismanic display for the Hammers at Stamford Bridge. He was a nuisance with his physical and technical abilities all afternoon, proving to be particularly impressive on the counter attack as he hauled his team up the pitch quickly.

Mark Arnautović's touches against Chelsea.

Arnautović completed four dribbles, produced an assist and generally made a nuisance of himself throughout the game. The striker now has six goals and five assists in his last ten appearances for the Hammers.

One more nail in Conte’s coffin

There’s plenty of them right now, and this was one more as Chelsea stuttered once again at the Bridge.

It’s now just five wins in 20 games for Chelsea with Spurs’ victory at Stoke City on Saturday leaving Conte’s team are ten points off the top four with just six games remaining.

Barring a collapse from any of the teams Chelsea are in contention with, the top four is surely out of reach.

This was another performance which bore all the hallmarks of how things have gone under Conte this season. They dominated the game and chances were created, but Chelsea couldn’t find that killer touch.

100 not out for Kanté

It was N’Golo Kanté’s 100th game in the Premier League, and it was a typically hard-working, tenacious performance from the French midfielder.

Yet again the effort and determination from Kanté made the rest of his team-mates’ efforts look weak in comparison. To cap the milestone, Kanté also produced his 400th tackle across those 100 games.

His energy was present again here as he completed three tackles, three interceptions and one clearance.

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