Chelsea make the short 10-mile journey east to take on fierce rivals West Ham United in a bid to keep their winning momentum going
The champions have hit a purple patch ever since the 3-0 defeat at the hands of AS Roma more than four weeks ago. Unbeaten in seven matches since, they hope to heap pressure on second-placed Manchester United with a win on Saturday, ahead of their own Manchester derby this weekend.
West Ham, on the other hand, desperately need a positive result. Since David Moyes took over the reins a month ago, they have won just a point from 5 matches and now boast of the worst defence in the league. However, the magic of the derby means the form-book goes out of the window, and the players can feed off the energy generated in the stands.
Fresh off the disappointment of not finishing the top of their group in the Champions League, Chelsea will come into this match with confidence nonetheless. Their recent record against the Hammers makes good reading for the Blues faithful – they have won 16 out of their last 22 games in the Premier League.
Team news and tactics
West Ham United
As if his troubles on the field weren’t enough, Moyes has several worries off the field too. Sam Byram, Jose Fonte, Winston Reid, James Collins and Andy Carroll are ruled out from featuring in this match. While the fitness of Chicharito, Mark Noble and Cheikhou Kouyate will be assessed before the game. Michail Antonio is also a doubt with a knock, but is likely to feature anyway.
They will most likely set up in a 3-5-2 formation with Antonio and Manuel Lanzini leading the line in attack. If they are to find a chance, it will be up to the front-two to capitalise on them given how rare they may turn out to be.
To cancel out their opponents’ star-studded midfield, the Hammers will most likely flood this area of the field. The likes of Noble and Pedro Obiang will be key to help break down key passes and feed the ball to Edimilson Fernandes, who is expected to start further forward in midfield.
The problem, however, has been at the other end of the field. Uncertainty over personnel in defence and a general lack of cohesion has put the Hammers in the position they are in now. With even the goalkeeper’s position now being under doubt, it will most likely be Adrian who will start ahead of Joe Hart for the second game running.
Probable lineups (3-5-2): Adrian (GK), Creswell, Ogbonna, Rice; Masuaku, Obiang, Fernandes, Noble, Zabaleta; Lanzini, Antonio
Unlike his counterpart, Antonio Conte does not have many injury worries to deal with. David Luiz is expected to miss out with a troublesome knee, while Kenedy and Charly Musonda are once again available for selection. Danny Drinkwater is also unavailable due to sickness.
Like their hosts, the Blues will also be expected to line up in a 3-5-2 formation, albeit with a more attack-minded midfield. In the absence of Drinkwater, Tiemoue Bakayoko will be expected to continue in the middle of midfield, inspite of being heavily criticised for his performance against Atletico Madrid.
Gary Cahill is likely to be given a rest, with the in-form Andreas Christensen continuing to marshal the defence from his position as centre-back. After a few worries at the start of the season, the back-three is now beginning to look settled and has kept 3 clean sheets in the last 5 league matches alone.
The marquee players this season, however, have been the front two. Alvaro Morata and Eden Hazard are setting the league alight with their form. The Belgian especially looks to be back to his best, and is certain to pique the interest of all the top clubs in Europe come January.
Probable lineup (3-5-2): Courtois (GK), Rudiger, Christensen, Azpilicueta; Alonso, Kante, Bakayoko, Fabregas, Moses; Hazard, Morata
Player to Watch
The Belgian looks like a different player this season. He seems to have found his peak and looks intent on keeping status quo. Against West Ham, he has been involved in 7 goals (4G, 3A) in the last 8 matches alone.
There have been rumours going around that he has rejected a new £300,000-a-week deal with Chelsea in hopes of getting a move to Real Madrid done at the end of the season. In this form, who would blame him.
- West Ham have failed to win their last 8 Premier League matches
- Chelsea have lost three of their last six matches against West Ham in all competitions, including last season’s league cup defeat
- West Ham have won just 2 of their last 22 Premier League matches against Chelsea (D4 L16)
- Nine of Manuel Lanzini’s 15 Premier League goals for West Ham have come in London derbies, including 2 last season against Chelsea
1. Chelsea Asian Handicap -1.0 @ 1.820
2. Over 2.5 Match Goals @ 1.80
1. Chelsea Asian Handicap -2.5 @ 4.250
West Ham 1-3 Chelsea
Although it will be a raucous atmosphere at the London Stadium, we would expect the Blues to take all three points. The midfield battle will turn out to be the most interesting, and whoever has enough quality on the day will come out on top.
However, it is with Morata and Hazard being in top form that will help the Blues immensely on the day. The two seem to have a telepathic connection, and their role in attack will turn out to be crucial come derby day.