Chelsea failed to maintain their 100 percent record after West Ham chiselled out a goalless draw at the London Stadium on Sunday.
And but for an horrendous late miss by Andriy Yarmolenko, it could have been back-to-back Premier League wins for the hosts and a first defeat for the Blues.
West Ham were without Marko Arnautovic, who picked up a knee injury at Everton last week. Michail Antonio was drafted in to lead the line with Andriy Yamolenko.
Chelsea were able to make seven changes from the side that defeated PAOK Salonika in the Europa League in midweek, with Eden Hazard recalled to the front line and Olivier Giroud preferred ahead of Alvaro Morata. Pedro was omitted after picking up a shoulder injury sustained in Greece.
Chelsea on the front foot early on and Giroud, looking for his first goal of the season, had a big chance after 10 minutes from William’s corner, but went for power rather than purchase and Lukasz Fabianski held comfortably.
West Ham relied on the break and Obeyang’s cross-come-shot almost broke to a sliding Michael Antonio, but the early exchanges were dominated by the Blues and Fabianski had to deal with hopeful drives from Antonio Rudiger and Hazard.
Coming into this, Chelsea had failed to win each of their last eight clashes following a European game and Willian, whose goal beat PAOK in midweek, almost gave Chelsea the lead after 20 minutes, but his shot was wayward.
Jorginho produced another good chance, picking out Giroud, but he failed to catch his volley with any venom and Fabianski easily saved again.
Chelsea, who needed to win by two clear goals to go back to the top of the table, had won five of their last six away games in the Premier League. Yet they lacked width in the first half an hour and the Blues’ centre-backs had trouble putting the ball between the lines to any great effect, finding the Hammers disciplined and organised.
Arnautovic, who has netted 14 goals in 25 games, was sorely missed and that was underlined when Antonio was guilty of missing two great chances inside 90 seconds on the half-hour mark, as the hosts came out of their defensive shell.
The inventive Felipe Anderson was always a threat when he got on the ball and he nutmegged Cesar Azpilicueta then sent Antonio clear, but his shot was well wide of Kepa’s goal. Yarmolenko then broke free and sent Antonio into six-yard box, only for Arrizabalaga Kepa to make himself big and he produced a fine save to keep the scores level.
Chelsea almost took a half-time lead when Hazard picked out Willian, who had got in behind Anderson at the far post, but his volley was just too high for N’Golo Kante, whose diving header rolled inches wide.
But for all Chelsea’s dominance – a total of 451 passes in the first period – they managed just three shots on target and two of those were from distance.
West Ham were similarly profligate with their final pass when they did go forward, but Yarmolenko was unlucky to see a rising drive go over the bar early in the second half.
Kante was cautioned for a lunge on Anderson, who also went into Mike Dean’s book soon after for a poor challenge on Willian, as the game continued to open up.
Chelsea had plenty of set-piece opportunities and David Luiz should have done better with a header from a Willian corner, but after losing marker Declan Rice, he miss-timed his leap and the ball flew over the bar.
West Ham had lost their first four games including their opening two home games, and had won just one London Derby since the start of last season – but that sole win came against Chelsea. With their confidence higher following a rare win at Everton last Sunday, the Hammers rarely looked troubled by their West London neighbours during the first hour.
Giroud was replaced by Alvaro Morata midway through the second half, and he almost scored with his first touch, only for Fabianski to pull off a wonderful save after the ball deflected into his path from a hashed clearance. In truth, the ex-Swansea man did not know much about it, as the ball smashed off his chin.
The luckless Antonio was replaced by Lucas Perez for the last 25 minutes and Chelsea were forced into a change shortly after as Luiz limped off, allowing wantaway Chelsea defender Gary Cahill to make his first appearance since last season’s FA Cup final.
Anderson was replaced by Robert Snodgrass for the last 16 minutes as the chances became more sporadic for the home side.
Mark Noble’s poor challenge on Mateo Kovacic failed to produce a yellow card, but while David Luiz’s strike from the resulting free-kick went through the wall, Fabianski had an easy save to make.
Chelsea were very fortunate not to go behind with 13 minutes remaining as Snodgrass almost made an immediate impact. He produced a superb cross and as Alonso was caught ball-watching, Yarmolenko appeared to have the simplest of chances from three yards out, but although he caught the ball cleanly, he put it wide of the right-hand post.
It was a major let-off for the Blues, but they failed to take advantage, although Fabianski had to be at his brilliant best to deny a rasping drive from Ross Barkley, who replaced Kovacic with 11 minutes remaining.
The Blues, who had been kept largely quiet in the second half, tried to turn the screw in the closing stages, but their final delivery as it had been all afternoon, was invariably poor and despite their uncanny knack for scoring late goals, a point apiece was just about right.