Boleyn Ground, Upton Park, London
Saturday, 24th October; 1500 GMT
While their recent form may not be an indicator of their position as reigning champions, Chelsea make the short trip east to take on an in-form West Ham at their home since 1904, the Boleyn Ground. It might well be Chelseaa s last appearance at the historic ground because West Ham have rented the Olympic Stadium from next season. The visitors would want nothing more than to take back 3 points from the ground.
Slaven Bilica s men have had a fantastic start to the season with them collecting 13 out of a possible 15 points on the road, but just 4 from 12 at Upton Park. Just 4 points off leaders Manchester City, it is beginning to look like there will surely be Premier League football — if not European football — at their new stadium next season. The summer transfer of Dimitri Payet and loan deals of Victor Moses and Carl Jenkinson were smart pieces of business by the club. Also, moving for a young manager in Bilic, they have made their intentions for the future clear.
Their London rivals, on the other hand, have had a poor start to their title defence. So much so that Jose Mourinho himself has admitted a top-four finish would now be considered a successful season. Problems off the pitch, defensive worries and suspensions of key players have contributed to this disappointing start. However, with 2 clean sheets in 2 games, and more importantly good performances in those matches, they must have gained some confidence.
Team news and tactics
The home team have just Winston Reid as an injury doubt, while Moses is ineligible to play due to a clause in his loan deal from Chelsea. Apart from that, last seasona s breakthrough player Enner Valencia has recovered from an ankle operation in July and might even start this match.
West Ham will be expected to line up in a 4-2-3-1 formation with Cheikhou Kouyate and Mark Noble in the holding role to begin with. The latter will join the attack as and when needed, sitting back when the opposition have the ball. In the absence of Moses, Mauro Zarate could be expected to start in the number ten role. Manuel Lanzini and Payet should take the wings while the line is led by the in-form Diafra Sakho. The former has been a breath of fresh air to the Premier League and has been instrumental in getting the Hammers off to a flyer. Even players like Zarate, who has played with QPR before this, have been revived this season because of the teama s direct style of play.
West Ham have been playing a brand new style of attacking football which has made them a very attractive team to watch. And with the ever vociferous home support to back them a coupled with a dislike of all things Chelsea a this could turn out to be an interesting game to watch.
Probable lineup (4-2-3-1): Adrian (GK), Jenkinson, Obgonna, Tomkins, Creswell; Noble, Kouyate; Lanzini, Zarate, Payet; Sakho
The away side, however, do have a few injury concerns to contend with. Branislav Ivanovic, Pedro and Loic Remy are all ruled out with injuries while Thibaut Courtois is the only long-term absentee.
Chelsea will be expected to line up in a 4-2-3-1 formation with Nemanja Matic and most probably Ruben Loftus-Cheek to sit and anchor the midfield. Mourinho has openly criticised the Serb for his lack of form this season while the young Englishman has been serenaded by his boss for his. Up front, the ever-present threat of Diego Costa will be ably supplied by a midfield that may feature Cesc Fabregas, Eden Hazard and Willian. Of the three, the Brazilian has been the only one in any noticeable form and was again superb in Chelseaa s last league outing against Aston Villa.
Chelsea have been their own worst enemy this season, giving the ball away at crucial times and letting in goals that they would not have last season. Although signs of improvement are there now, nothing but a solid run of form will silence the doubters.
Probable lineup (4-2-3-1): Begovic (GK), Baba, Terry, Zouma, Azpilicueta; Matic, Loftus-Cheek; Hazard, Fabregas, Willian; Costa
Players to watch out for
Diego Costa (Chelsea)
The Spaniard looked like his old self in the last game against Villa which will be good news for all Chelsea fans. A match winner in his own right and a trouble maker by equal measure, Costa is just the catalyst that derbies like these need to make it an entertaining affair.
Dimitri Payet (West Ham)
Probably the leaguea s most in-form player right now with 4 goals and 2 assists in his last 5 games, the Frenchman is the stand-out player of this match. He is sure to give an already fragile looking Chelsea defence a tough time with his pace and movement off the ball.
. Key facts
- If Chelsea win this, it will be Mourinhoa s 201st victory in 310 games in charge. He has a win percentage of 65%.
- West Ham are unbeaten in 6 games in the League while Chelsea have lost 3 of their last 6
- Chelsea have already lost more games this season than they did in the entire last campaign
West Ham 1 a 2 Chelsea
Although it will be tough, Chelsea should come back home with 3 points given West Hama s poor form at home this season.