The word “resurgent” may be a little premature for West Ham who are still tentatively finding their feet in the world of winning, but Wednesday’s 2-1 EFL Cup win over Chelsea marks a significant consolidation of recent form.
Yes, Antonio Conte fielded a slightly weakened side but the Irons still had to do what they had consistently failed to do thus far – get over their nerves, create chances and make those chances count.
They did so with two goals from unusual sources (the traditional goal scorers have failed to make an impact this season) with Cheikhou Kouyate and a debut goal from Edimilson Fernandes putting the home side ahead. The last minute consolation by Chelsea’s Gary Cahill spoiled the party a little ( but not as much as the action in the stands ).
The reward is a mouth-watering quarter-final away at Old Trafford against Jose Mourinho’s shaky but insistent Manchester United. After a string of improving performances, West Ham may be just about ready for the challenge.
Kouyate told the club’s website : “We are very happy with the result because we beat a big team like Chelsea. The most important thing for us was to get the victory and we managed to do that.
“I saw my goal after the game and it was an unbelievable goal. I spoke with Dimi and said it had nothing to do with him this time! But I am very happy to have scored the goal.
“It was great to see Fernandes score and he is a very good player. He works so hard and I was very happy for him. We are now all focused on the next game.”
The violence in the stands – and the rain – put a damper on the party spirit but there is cause for celebration with a third victory in a row as West Ham claw themselves out of the poor form that may be a direct result of their new surroundings.
Manager Slaven Bilic said : “We played really good tonight. It was a great atmosphere, a cup game, night game, London derby, and Chelsea are a great team who have hit great form recently.
“We had a game plan and the guys executed it almost perfectly. We were great in the first half and really good in the second half and when we had to defend, we defended in numbers and we were good at keeping the ball.
“In transition we hurt them and could have scored more. It was a great win and a great performance and it was good to beat Chelsea.”
The goal from Fernandes was a bonus. Bilic doesn’t expect the Swiss youngster to break into the side on a regular basis but he has made his mark in a team starved of goal scorers.
Now Bilic believes there’s a slim possibility of silverware.
He said: “You never know. If we play like this, we are capable of progressing.
“This is not only important for the competition but also for the Premier League. It gives you more confidence. We will be a little bit tired on the training ground, but then it’s going to be buzzing and from that we will be less tired.
“Now we have most our players back fit, we can do it, as a unit and a team. Now we have three wins on the spin. I’m very optimistic of course.”