Are West Ham United the best football club in London? In past years, the Irons have run a distant third, behind Chelsea FC and Arsenal. This fall, though, West Ham are hovering near the top of the 2015 2016 Premier League and have enjoyed victories against both of their London-based league rivals, meaning West Ham United take London bragging rights. Could we feasibly see the Irons contending for their first-ever top-flight soccer title come spring 2016?
The London Wins
West Ham's strong 2015 2016 season got started off on the perfect foot, with a 2-0 away win at Arsenal on August 8th. The Gunners had been strongly favored to win the match, given their recent successes. Indeed, in the 2014 2015 Premier League, Arsenal ran a slow and steady race to finish third-ahead of a revitalized Manchester United squad. They went on to win the FA Cup and the FA Community Shield, beating out the reigning Premier League champs from Chelsea for the latter title.
But while Arsenal led the August 8th fixture in position and dominated West Ham in terms of dangerous attacks, the Irons were ultimately the ones that made better use of their chances. Indeed, both Cheikhou Kouyate and Mauro Zarate snuck shots past Arsenal's newly minted goalkeeper Petr Cech, earning West Ham United a surprising 2-0 victory in the match.
The next two weeks suggested that West Ham's win might have been a fluke, with the Irons losing to both Leicester City and AFC Bournemouth-both at home. But West Ham's soccer squad has shown a surprising knack for taking down some of the Premier League's top clubs this season, from Arsenal to Liverpool to Manchester City.
Taking Down Chelsea
On Saturday, October 24th, the Irons added Chelsea to their list of victims. The Blues, of course, have been in shambles this season, only picking up a trio of wins (against West Bromwich Albion, Arsenal, and Aston Villa, respectively) in their first 10 games of the 2015 2016 campaign.
The October 24th game saw the Blues traveling from one London stadium for a game at West Ham United's Boleyn Ground. West Ham's Zarate and Andy Carroll scored the goals to give the Irons a 2-1 win, but the bigger story was the laundry list of yellow cards that Chelsea's squad received during the 90 minutes of play. Indeed, half of Chelsea's starting lineup picked up yellow cards during Sunday's fixture, as did Obi Mikel, who subbed in for Cesc Fabregas after the first half.
Most of the fouls occurred when Chelsea midfielder Nemanja Matic was sent off with a red card, just before halftime. Matic, who had fouled Zarate 10 minutes earlier, knocked the Irons' Diafra Sakho to the ground to earn his exit from the match. The call led a huddle of Chelsea players to surround match referee Jonathan Moss to protest, but their arguments didn't work. In fact, the protests earned both Fabregas and Diego Costa their yellow cards.
The Chelsea players weren't the only ones with tempers flaring over Matic's red card. Silvino Louro, the Blues' first-team coach, was sent off for his angry behavior following the call. Jose Mourinho himself was sent off, as well, though it's not clear what he said to Moss to earn exile to the stands.
Mourinho could well have said something he shouldn't have, though, given the frustration he was undoubtedly feeling as the match barreled into halftime. In addition to Matic's dismissal, Chelsea had other spots of bad luck during the first half-including two disallowed goals. The first goal, a 35-minute shot from Ramires, supposedly went a fraction over West Ham's line, but was denied thanks to goal line technology. The second, a more concrete 42-minute finish by Fabregas, was ruled out on an offside call.
The outcome of Sunday's match gives West Ham United bragging rights among London's football clubs for the fall season. Perhaps more notably, though, the match undoubtedly saw Chelsea hitting rock bottom, with Mourinho's marching orders just the latest sign that the coach may no longer be the best fit for the Stamford Bridge job.
What do you think? Did West Ham deserve to win this game, or were Chelsea treated unfairly by the ref? Pick up a West Ham United jersey 2015 2016 or Chelsea shirt from Soccer Box, then find us on social media to discuss the outcome of the football match and what it means for the 2015 2016 Premier League. You can find us on multiple social platforms including Facebook, Instagram, and Tumblr.