In a season that has been quite remarkable so far, today’s derby win over Chelsea has to be the defining moment of it. Few supporters and even fewer commentators would have thought it at all likely West Ham were capable of beating Chelsea. Beating Chelsea 3-1 was surely out of the question. But everything came together today for a truly memorable win in our return season to the EPL. After going down to a Juan Mata strike set up by fellow Spaniard Fernando Torres, just a few minutes after Winston Reid came close to nodding home after a James Collins free kick, Kevin Nolan, always reliable, had a goal in the 33rd minute denied. Where have we seen that happen before? Certainly wasn’t good for the nerves after Man City’s frustrating let down. Nolan came close again near the end of the first half, nearly converting from a free kick. Petr Cech barely got his fingers to it to knock it clear.
Although we were never out of the game, Big Sam had seen enough close calls courtesy of defensive lapses to decide a change needed to be made. Off went Gary O’Neil and James Tomkins and in came Momo Diame and Matt Taylor. It was an inspired substitution. Before long Diame was taking control of the middle of the pitch as he’s so often done this season. The chances started coming thick and fast, but it was a harmless looking header from Carlton Cole that equalized the match, Matt Jarvis providing the service and the head of Branislav Ivanovic helping out immensely. Upton Park went wild. In the 86th minute things only got louder as Diame smashed in a volley after having it laid off for him by Cole. Cue absolute delirium.
Pandemonium was to ensue shortly. In the first minute of stoppage time Matt Taylor had his shot parried away by Cech only to land at the feet of Modibo Maiga. He didn’t fail to send the whole East End into utter euphoria. The sight of Big Sam and assistants jumping up and down, fully embraced, in the joy of beating Chelsea has to warm the heart of any Hammer. Anger is more a emotion one is accustomed to seeing from the West Ham boss. Not today. What a day to be a Hammer.