On a day when when Bournemouth were whacked 4-1 at home by Newcastle and Norwich cut even further adrift at the bottom after 4-0 tonking at Arsenal, finally West Ham took advantage.
They did just that, picking up just their third Premier League win of 2020 with a 3-2 victory over Chelsea in a cracking London derby in E20 as east beat west for the second time this season, the first time the Hammers have done the double over the Blues since the 2002/03 season. Frank Lampard joins Southampton’s Ralph Hassenhuttl as the only two managers who have succumbed twice to West Ham this season.
Boy did West Ham and David Moyes need that result as well. It puts the team three points clear of the relegation zone and while there is still a long way to go, the form of the sides around them says a lot about how this season could end.
Moyes said before the game that his side needed some luck and if they worked hard, they would earn it. It didn’t look that way when Tomas Soucek had a goal very harshly ruled out by VAR in the first half.
The official line from the Premier League was that Antonio, who was lying on the floor, impeded Chelsea stopper Kepa’s vision. That excuse won’t wash but it didn’t matter as Soucek scored an equaliser five minutes later that did stand.
West Ham huffed and puffed all game despite being pegged back by Willian’s expertly taken free kick. But in Yarmolenko, the Hammers have a game-changer who has been sparingly used since the restart and has suffered another season of injury woe. The Ukrainian was brought on in the 77th minute as Moyes took off an exhausted Jarrod Bowen, who had mercilessly tormented Marcos Alonso all night.
Yarmolenko certainly strengthened his claim for a starting eleven spot against Newcastle by steering home a superb 90th minute winner that secured the Hammers most vital win of the campaign so far.
What Antonio Rudiger was doing showing Yarmolenko inside onto his stronger left foot, only he knows. The German, who had a rough evening at the hands of Michail Antonio and Bowen, paid a heavy, heavy price as the Ukrainian stroked home past Kepa with aplomb.
There had been plenty of calls for Yarmolenko to be included at the expense of Antonio prior to kick off. The Ukrainian offers that bit of flair and unpredictability about him. He can produce moments of genius and moments of sheer annoyance in equal measure. But he brings something else to the table.
In fact, Yarmolenko had mis-placed two key passes when the Hammers were counter-attacking after his 77th minute introduction and it looked like it was one of those frustrating appearances for the winger.
But when Antonio collected the ball just past half way from a clever Pablo Fornals pass, pivoted to his left and shuffled the ball out to Yarmolenko, there was only one thing on his mind – run at Rudiger. He did, the defender inexplicably showed him inside and the damage was done. Yarmolenko exclusively plays one way, cutting in off the right flank on to his left foot. Rudiger had a complete meltdown.
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Moyes was asked by football.london if Yarmolenko had shown his worth to the manager and Moyes, rather surprisngly, was rather coy over his matchwinner. “We signed Jarrod Bowen who plays in his position and has had a very good start to his time here,” Moyes said.
“I’ve had a chance to see Yarma tonight, he gives me good competition. Tonight, Jarrod made one and Yarma scored one so I am pleased for both of them tonight.
Moyes needs players who graft in this situation, flair players might not be exactly what he needs. He lost a grafter in Mark Noble who was replaced by Manuel Lanzini, who had a decent night. Bowen was superb, as was Antonio and Soucek had a dominant game in midfield. Noble certainly wasn’t missed.
The manager has come under fire for his substitutions since the restart and for most of his second reign but this time, his introduction of Yarmolenko was spot on and in the nick of time as well.