Chelsea were rescued by a Cesc Fabregas brace, his first since 2009, as the Blues played out another draw at home.
With nothing left to play for, the SW6 side, who despite being unbeaten in their last 14 Premier League matches, have also had to contend with drawing five of their last six home games in the league, keeping a clean sheet in only one of them, and this poor form would continue this afternoon.
Lanzini put the Champions League-fighting West Ham ahead but Fabregas levelled in first-half injury-time for his side, which appears destined for mid-table mediocrity this season.
Carroll restored the visitors’ lead just minutes after being introduced, before Fabregas tucked away a penalty with a minute to play.
With absolutely nothing but pride to play for, you wondered what went through Hiddink’s mind for team selection. Youth, bar Kenedy, was not considered and a full-strength squad suggested a side fighting on all four, but this has not been the case, putting further doubt on Abramovich’s rationale for firing Mourinho.
Terry was suitably recognised pre-match for reaching 700 matches for Chelsea, but how many more he will get is dependent on performances and he and his defensive line did not start well here.
Lanzini raced onto the ball not cleared well enough by Mikel and arrowed a perfect rocket into the top corner. Courtois was as shaky as ever but could do nothing there.
Kouyate went close from a West Ham corner, whilst at the other end the closest Chelsea got was a penalty shout with Cahill’s shot hitting Valencia.
Creswell was bullying Ivanovic down the left but Chelsea still had something in them, with Willian going close from a free-kick.
Fabregas would take the next free-kick, and to perfection. Oscar was felled by Reid and Fabregas, albeit cheekily moving the ball back two extra yards, arrowed another sublime goal into the back of the net.
West Ham have won just one of their last six meetings with Chelsea but the form was on their side and Payet, the man of the moment for West Ham, had the first shot at goal after the restart.
Cresswell then smashed the underside of the crossbar with Courtois well beaten at his near post, and it was a lucky let-off for the hosts.
Pedro advanced beautifully into the penalty area and attempted to play a one-two off Remy, but the Frenchman was on a different wavelength and opted to swivel and shoot himself. It was not a bad idea, but did not bear the goal.
That would be his last action, and the first action of his substitute Bertrand Traore was to ask for another penalty claim. A neat volley smacked against the arm of Reid but it was very much ball-to-hand.
One substitution that did work wonders was West Ham’s of Sakho for Carroll. Payet’s diagonal ball totally split the Chelsea back-line and Carroll was not losed down by Courtois, who ended up looking a fool by being comfortably beaten at his near post.
Mikel had a flurry of opportunities as the game reached the business stage, first heading over from three yards out and then shooting well wide with no defender in his path.
Pedro did well on the left and his cross found Oscar at the far post, but his volley was blocked. The ricochet fell nicely to Fabregas, but his overhead kick sadly lacked the accuracy. It would have been a spectacular goal.
Terry went close, as did Fabregas and Ivanovic in a melee around the penalty box, but West Ham had opportunities to kill the came were it not for firstly Ivanovic to clear from a Carroll header and also Traore to clear off the line.
But Hiddink’s drawing record would be preserved when Ruben Loftus-Cheek was adjudged to have been felled inside the box. Fabregas tucked in the ensuing penalty.
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Man of the Match
CESC FABREGAS: 81 passes, 100 touches, 2 goals. The Spaniard had one of his better games this season to score his fifth and sixth league goals of the season, and looked like he had a point to prove with an incredibly passionate performance. Post-match, there has been interesting talk resurfacing about whether Fabregas would make a worthy Chelsea captain, for he showed much more heart today than any other considering there is nothing to play for. 7/10
Hiddink was again deflecting off his side’s inability to win at home: “This is a very good West Ham side. They are knocking on the door for the top four. We stared well in the first 10 minutes but we then started losing the possession too easily. In the second half we got caught on the counter, but we reacted perfectly to get the draw.”
Bilic was reflective: “I don’t look too much at the table but what gives me confidence is the way we are playing, no matter who or where. We are capable and we are having chances against any team. That approach should take us far.”
Post written by Martin Li. Martin has had five years’ blogging experience, writing for the likes of Bleacher Report and SWOL. He runs his own Chelsea blog — The Chelsea Chronicle — which has match reaction and analysis from every Chelsea match. You can follow him on Twitter.
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