As the final seconds of the match dwindled down, Andy Carroll had his hands on his hips, searching for air. The big show walked off the pitch looking a wee bit dejected. The Hammers fell 2-1 but it was not for lack of effort. For this writer, it mostly came down to tactics. West Ham United’s gameplan was what one would expect, and that’s the problem. Push the ball onto the wings and fire crosses into the box, hoping for Andy’s natural athleticism to win the day. Unfortunately, those tactics have become vanilla and no manager in the Premier League will be caught off guard. The aerial assault was easily defended and negated as Antonio Conte sought out his 21st victory.
ICYMI: Manuel Lanzini gets a goal back for West Ham late in stoppage time pic.twitter.com/YqRsoOuWOD— NBC Sports Soccer (@NBCSportsSoccer) March 6, 2017
As mentioned in our weekly predictions article, mostly by me, West Ham looked to predictably play the ball into the box only to get beaten on the counter. Chelsea wears opponents down and wait for their moment to release the Krakens, Pedro and Eden Hazard. The 25th minute goal didn’t force Slaven Bilic to change tactics as he continued the ‘aerial onslaught’. It wasn’t until the dying minutes of the match, Carroll stripped the ball from Cesc Fabregas, opened up to Andre Ayew who set up a beautiful strike for Manuel Lanzini.
Andy Carroll told the club’s website:
“I feel good. I was obviously a bit tired at the end as I only trained three or four times in the weeks before. To get 90 minutes was great and the groin’s fine.”
Look, it’s not news that he’s a bit tired. Andy’s not even in full training yet. His start against Chelsea was out of necessity, not fitness. Sadly, that’s also how players get hurt so easily. The good news is he will be ramping up his workout routine ahead of West Ham’s match against Bournemouth. The Cherries are in atrocious form so the Hammers will look to take advantage. Throw into the mix Andy Carroll is looking to notch his 50th goal in the Premier League, we might have ourselves a barn burner!