Antonio Conte will begin life in the Premier League as Chelsea manager by welcoming London rivals West Ham United to Stamford Bridge.
All eyes will be on the Italian to see how he fares in his first Premier League match and to what extent his team have taken to his philosophy. New signings Michy Batshuayi and N’golo Kante are both expected to feature, with the latter expected to start after impressing during the Blues’ pre-season tour.
Conte will have an almost full-strength side to pick from, with only John Obi Mikel missing out due to the Olympics in Brazil and Kurt Zouma still recovering from an ACL injury he sustained last season.
The Blues are widely expected to line up in a 4-3-3, with Kante, Nemanja Matic and Cesc Fabregas in the middle of the park. This could later be altered in the match to a 4-2-4, with another striker — most likely Batshuayi — coming on for Fabregas.
Chelsea youngsters Ruben Loftus-Cheek, Nathaniel Chalobah and Ola Aina were all an active part of Antonio Conte’s pre-season squad and are expected to make the bench for Monday’s clash. Chalobah and Aina both impressed during the team’s pre-season tour, with fans hoping for more first-team minutes for the pair.
Antonio Conte has seemingly taken a liking to Loftus-Cheek and believes the Chelsea academy graduate can be effective as a striker. Juan Cuadrado has been retained this summer by Conte and will likely make the bench for the game. Victor Moses, who spent last season with West Ham, has impressed in pre-season and will start the game from the bench.
West Ham United
Slaven Bilic has a minor injury crisis to deal with going into this tie. Midfielder Manuel Lanzini and left-back Aaron Cresswell are out with long term injures. The Hammers’ star man Dimitri Payet returned to training only last weekend after a long summer at the Euros with his national side. New summer signing Gokhan Tore, a former Chelsea youth player, only returned last week from an injury and may feature in some capacity today.
Andre Ayew and Sofiane Feghouli both arrived this summer in a bid to boost the Hammers’ attack. It is yet to be seen whether Bilic will start Ayew and Payet despite the duo not being completely match fit. Enner Valencia is likely to start up front with Andy Carroll.
Michail Antonio is expected to start at right-back and Sam Byram will be playing on the other flank — both out of position and definite weak points which Eden Hazard and Willian will look to exploit. Captain Mark Noble and Pedro Obiang will team up with Angelo Ogbonna in the middle of the park, with the latter set to face his former Juventus manager Antonio Conte. Feghouli is expected to start behind the duo of Valencia and Carroll, with the Ecuadorian dropping deeper in midfield when required.