LONDON — After all the talk about Chelsea's big-money signings this week, it was West Ham's new midfielder who had the biggest impact in the Premier League derby between the London clubs on Sunday.
James Ward Prowse enjoyed what he called “a dream debut” by setting up two goals in a 3-1 win for West Ham that came despite the Hammers playing with 10 men for the last 30 minutes of the game. Moises Caicedo, meanwhile, only managed to give away a penalty for the final goal in injury time after coming on in the second half for his first appearance since his record-breaking $146 million move from Brighton.
The Caicedo signing took Chelsea's total outlay on players past the $1 billion mark under its American ownership and the club followed it up by splashing $74 million on Romeo Lavia, another defensive midfielder who wasn't deemed ready to be in the squad against West Ham.
Chelsea manager Mauricio Pochettino is still without a win after his first two games, after a 1-1 draw with Liverpool last weekend. And his biggest problem may be a lack of attacking options.
Chelsea dominated large parts of the game but couldn't create many quality chances for striker Nicolas Jackson — another summer signing. And Argentina midfielder Enzo Fernandez, who cost Chelsea $131.4 million last season, missed a penalty that would have put his club 2-1 up just before the halftime break.
In comparison, the $38 million that West Ham spent on Ward-Prowse looks like a bargain.
“A dream debut for me on a personal note, and more importantly the team,” Ward-Prowse said. “You could feel the energy in the stadium towards the end. It's a special day.”
The 28-year-old midfielder — who joined from Southampton on the same day that Caicedo joined Chelsea — is known for his set-piece deliveries and delivered a perfect corner that was headed in by Nayef Aguerd to give West Ham the lead in the seventh minute.
After Carney Chukwuemeka equalized for Chelsea in the 28th, Fernandez had a chance to give the visitors what would have been a deserved lead just before the halftime break. But his penalty was saved by Alphonse Areola, and West Ham retook the lead when Ward-Prowse played a ball over the top for Michail Antonio, who beat Robert Sanchez with a shot from the edge of the area in the 53rd.
Aguerd then earned a second booking for a badly mistimed challenge in the 67th, but West Ham hung on with 10 men until Caicedo tripped Emerson in the area to give away a penalty that Lucas Paqueta calmly converted in the fifth minute of injury time to extend the hosts' lead.
“That’s football. Teams like us, we need to get the right balance," Pochettino said. “(I'm) disappointed but this is only the beginning. We need to believe in the process."
What a difference a week made for Aston Villa. Unai Emery's team went from losing by four goals in its first game of the season to winning by the same margin in its second.
Villa routed Everton 4-0 at home to hand Emery his biggest win since taking over as manager last year and leave the Toffees without a point — or a goal — in its first two games.
After losing 5-1 at Newcastle last weekend, Villa took a 2-0 lead after goals from captain John McGinn and Douglas Luiz in the first half and then added second-half efforts from Leon Bailey and substitute Jhon Duran.
“After our result at Newcastle, it was very important to have this impact,” Emery said.
Everton manager Sean Dyche could already be facing some pressure, though, after helping Everton narrowly avoid relegation last season. His team's poor defending contributed to at least two of the goals, and his attacking problems were made worse by striker Dominic Calvert-Lewin having to come off in the 38th after a clash of heads.
“Sometimes, the weirdest thing as a manager, is you have to accept a collective down day. It was a collective down day," Dyche said. "They (Villa) probably had it in reverse. After their result last weekend, they played really well today.”