New Chelsea boss Mauricio Pochettino’s wait for a first victory will go on for five more days at least as his side flattered to deceive in a 3-1 away loss at West Ham United on Sunday (Aug 20).
A header by Nayef Aguerd, Michail Antonio’s goal on the break and a late penalty by Lucas Paqueta secured victory for West Ham who finished with 10 men after Aguerd was dismissed for a second yellow card midway through the second half.
West Ham’s first two goals were assisted by debutant James Ward-Prowse who signed from Southampton this month.
Chelsea cancelled out Aguerd’s goal with a well-taken equaliser by Carney Chukwuemeka in the 28th minute and only had themselves to blame for defeat as they dominated possession, missed chances and saw a penalty by Enzo Fernandez saved.
Pochettino sent on the club’s latest big-money signing Moises Caicedo in a bid to salvage something but he gave away the penalty which sealed his side’s fate.
West Ham have four points from their opening two games with Chelsea, who host Luton Town next Friday, on one.
Chelsea have spent around £325 million (US$414 million) on eight players so far in the transfer window, taking their total spending since Todd Boehly and Clearlake Capital took over in May 2022 to close to £800 million.
Blending them together will be a challenge, however, for the former Tottenham Hotspur and Paris St Germain manager.
“It is the start of the season and it is the process,” Pochettino said. “At the moment we need to be more clinical and score more goals when we create the chances.”
His side pinned West Ham back at times on Sunday, especially in a dominant opening half, but whereas the hosts trusted their system, Chelsea are clearly in need of an identity.
All the spending in the world cannot legislate for poor defending and West Ham’s first goal came from the most simple of formulas. Ward-Prowse swung over a corner and Aguerd rose unmarked to nod the ball past Robert Sanchez.
Chukwuemeka cut in to equalise with his right foot and when Chelsea were awarded a penalty in the 42nd minute after Raheem Sterling was brought down, it seemed they would take control.
But Alphonse Areola guessed right to keep out Fernandez’s effort and it proved to be a pivotal moment.
Chelsea were undone too easily again early in the second half when West Ham turned over possession and Ward-Prowse sent Antonio away to out-muscle Levi Colwill and beat Sanchez with a clinical right-foot effort.
Aguerd gave his team a problem with a needless second yellow card for a foul on Nicolas Jackson but West Ham responded well and Chelsea’s day was to go from bad to worse as Caicedo, whose fee could become a British record, fouled Emerson in the box and Paqueta’s stutter-run penalty deceived Sanchez.
Chelsea impressed against Liverpool in last week’s draw, but defeat at West Ham showed that they will have to gel quickly if they are to challenge for the top four.
“I cannot change my speech after Liverpool,” Pochettino said. “We needed to believe in the process and we need to keep being calm.”