West Ham suffered a 2-1 defeat against league leaders Chelsea at the London Stadium on Monday night as the Blues took another big step to securing the Premier League title.
Eden Hazard and Diego Costa put Chelsea 2-0 up before a late consolation goal from Manuel Lanzini gave West Ham supporters, or those who were still there, some hope of a miraculous comeback.
One story of the game was the context of stadiums for both clubs.
Chelsea fans who taunted the West Ham supporters about their move to the London Stadium, with one chant of ‘You’re not West Ham anymore’ particularly hurtful for the attending West Ham supporters.
It was chant that was fuelled by the decision taken earlier in the day by the Mayor of London to approve Chelsea’s plans for a new unique and stylish stadium that will remain in Fulham, where Chelsea have always been located.
The move from the Boleyn to the London Stadium, located in Stratford wasn’t the scenario many West Ham supporters were keen on, but it some senses it was the right move for the club.
The stadium move came with considerable expectations, and many West Ham supporters expected much more than what was attainable and are, perhaps, getting what their side is capable of.
There have been moments this season where it looked like West Ham have been more competitive, most notably the win in the EFL cup against Chelsea and the resolute draws away at Liverpool and Manchester United.
Those moments of promise have been cancelled out by performances which highlight why West Ham are struggling. Two times they were thrashed against Manchester City at home, 5-0 and 4-0 respectively. The thrashing against Arsenal, the capitulation against Watford at home, the early exit in Europe at the hands of Astra Giurgiu. That is why West Ham are still not one of the top English sides.
The off-pitch issues encountered by the club this season have also not been ideal for development.
The Dmitri Payet saga was also addressed by Chelsea supporters and was met by a chant of ‘Dmitri Payet, he left cos you’re s***.’
Payet refused to play for West Ham earlier in the season and entered a stand-off with the club, yet West Ham stood firm and maintained he would not be sold at any price. What happened? Payet was sold.
The transfer business done by West Ham throughout the summer was also arguably not one of a club trying to become one of the best. The Hammers were linked and interested in Carlos Bacca and Alexandre Lacazatte but landed Jonathan Calleri and Simone Zaza, who have scored one goal between them for West Ham, with the latter already shipped off to Valencia.
The frustration of the supporters at West Ham was highlighted on Monday night. As Eden Hazard opened the scoring for Chelsea, a pitch-invader made a long run across the advertising hoardings to confront the celebrating Chelsea players, but was soon met by the stewards and taken away.
Supporters were promised so much at the start of the season, world-class signings, further improvement in performances on the pitch and progression as a club. The fact is West Ham have returned to being a mid-table side that’s as close to relegation as they are to the top six.
That’s why the Chelsea supporters are maybe wrong. West Ham may have a new, innovative stadium, but on the pitch they remain the same West Ham they were at the Boleyn.