What a game. What a result. We enter the game fearing the worst as Andy Carroll is out until the New Year and for some reason Sam is resting Diame and playing Tomkins in midfield. Nigel’s away celebrating a Significant Birthday with his mum while Michael the Whovian is in Japan researching how to reverse the polarity of the neutron flow. Lisa and Matt’s mate Martin supplement our squad.
Chelsea look faster all over the pitch. In a swift Chelsea break Torres gets behind Reid to cross and Mata sweeps home after 13 minutes. There’s still that “Rafa Out” banner among the Chelsea fans. On 16 minutes they serenade the sacked Roberto Di Matteo, but it doesn’t stop Chelsea looking likely to add another. Demel dawdles and Ramires races down the left to set up Moses for a shot he slices wide. Torres chips wastefully over the bar to spark a chorus of “what a waste a money!” and then Jussi makes a great save from Mata and Chelsea’s follow-up is denied by a great block from O’Brien. We’ll be grateful to keep it down to one at half-time. There’s an Irish Hammer behind us who is in a constant state of excitement or panic and shocks Matt with more “fecks” than on Father Ted.
Cole looks isolated up front and we’re being overrun in midfield where Tomkins isn’t mobile enough to cope with the likes of Mata and Hazard. West Ham have a rare attack when Collins is harshly punished for a push as Nolan scores with an overhead kick long after the whistle has gone. Chelsea keep making the wrong decision with their final pass but West Ham sense some hope at the end of the half. Cech handles outside the box and Collins’ free kick deflects up in the air off the wall and Nolan’s header produces a great tip-over from the keeper.
ALWAYS BELIEVE IN…
Big Sam makes the right substitutions. Diame replaces Tomkins and Taylor comes on for O’Neil. After the break West Ham look a different side, coming at Chelsea from the kick-off. Diame is brilliant, tackling everywhere in midfield and showing immense power to break down the flanks, while Taylor adds width and some fizzing crosses. Matt Jarvis comes into the game and becomes a real threat. Carlton Cole does well to get in a header that goes wide. The Upton Park crowd gets seriously noisy as the Irons harry Chelsea and win a series of corners.
On 63 minutes neat footwork from Nolan sends Jarvis down the left touchline. His cross deflects off Cahill and Carlton Cole climbs above Ivanovic to head the ball into the corner of the net. The stadium erupts and it’s a lovely moment for Cole who has never complained about being a relegated to the bench. “Always believe in CARLTON COLE!” choruses the Bobby Moore Stand, as I suggest to Matt that "he’s indestructible-ish”.
Chelsea look angry and it’s end to end now. They counter attack and Jussi makes a great save from Hazard and Torres fluffs the follow-up. A great ball from Noble sets Jarvis clear only for Cech to parry his shot. Reid then has a header cleared off the line with claims the ball has crossed the line, though it’s difficult to be sure. Mata then takes a great free kick that rebounds off the inside of the post. And Carlton Cole, always a confidence player, is terrifying the Chelsea defence. Yes, Carlton Cole is looking unplayable. And you have to say that Collins is superb at the back as well, dominating Chelsea in the air.
It looks like being a draw until the 86th minute. O’Brien crosses from the left, Carlton Cole holds the ball up close to the goalline and plays a cushioned pass back to Diame on the edge of the box who thumps the ball into the bottom corner. Cue mayhem in the East Stand and the Irish geezer is hugging us too and explaining how much money he stands to win.
HE'S GETTNG SACKED IN THE MORNING!
Surely we can’t be about to beat Chelsea the European Champions with their unlimited money and managers? “SACKED IN THE MORNING! YOU’RE GETTING SACKED IN THE MORNING!” taunt the fans at Rafa. Bubbles echoes round the Boleyn.
The 90 minutes is up. Ashley Cole is trying to play the ball out of defence only to be closed down and tackled by the magnificent Diame. Matt Taylor is free down the right, he shoots, Cech parries and there’s Modibo Maiga to fire home the third.
It’s pandemonium at Upton Park. Big Sam goes into a group hug with his coaches and hasn’t looked this happy since he had a few too many pints of bitter at Peter Kay’s Phoenix Club in Bolton. There’s a rousing chorus of “FROM STAMFORD BRIDGE TO UPTON PARK! STICK YOUR BLUE FLAG UP YOUR ARSE!” The Chelsea fans unfurl another “Rafa Chelsea Reject” banner just to complete the comedy as Jussi makes a brilliant save to deny Torres’ header. And then it’s all over, the ground erupts and Twist and Shout is on the tannoy. It's our first victory over Chelsea since 2003. And that Chelsea flag has been well and truly thrust up the unlikeliest of orifices.
Fraser lights up his first cigar on the Barking Road and has another two to go by the time we reach the Black Lion. Inside the back bar England are thrashing the All Blacks at rugby and Arsenal are losing at home to Swansea. This is why we go to football. West Ham 3 Chelsea 1. Fact.