Chelsea could almost confirm their defeat in the race for top four if they do not manage to get a win over West Ham at Stamford Bridge on Sunday.
Chelsea’s season has petered out quickly and frankly, in a very disappointing manner. The Blues are in danger of losing out on Champions League football for the next season as well, with the club 11 points behind fourth-placed Tottenham, albeit with a game in hand over their London rival.
West Ham on the other hand, are slowly getting closer to safety. David Moyes has seen a bit of a tumultuous time for his side from the touchline. But, their recent win over Southampton saw them get 5 points clear off the drop zone and closer to the 38-point mark.
Both the teams go into the match needing a win on Sunday. Their last encounter saw West Ham prevail over Chelsea at the London Stadium. Ahead of their latest meeting, we take a closer look at the two sides.
Team News & Tactics
Ethan Ampadu and David Luiz remain sidelined for the fixture. Ross Barkley is yet to regain match fitness and is unlikely to play any part on Sunday. Thibaut Courtois missed the 3-1 defeat to Tottenham and Antonio Conte will hope to have his first-choice back for the match against West Ham.
Pedro and Davide Zappacosta are both doubts for the match as well, giving Antonio Conte a real selection headache.
Cesc Fabregas should continue besides N’Golo Kante in the middle of the park, with Tiemoue Bakayoko likely to settle for a spot on the bench. With Alvaro Morata scoring again, the Spaniard is expected to retain his spot upfront over Olivier Giroud.
Probable Lineup (3-4-2-1): Courtois; Azpilicueta, Christensen, Rudiger; Moses, Kante, Fabregas, Alonso; Willian, Hazard; Morata
One of the main reasons for West Ham’s slip in form has been their gruesome injury list. Michail Antonio is the latest name to join the likes of Pedro Obiang, Winston Reid, Sam Byram and Andy Carroll on the long-term injury list. Manuel Lanzini, Chicharito and James Collins are doubts for Sunday as well.
Manuel Lanzini, if not fit enough to make it to the starting lineup, could be replaced by Edmilson Fernandes, who came on as a substitute against Southampton. Chicharito’s potential absence could see Moyes put Marko Arnautovic up top.
Joe Hart should entrusted over Adrian between the posts while the 3-man backline consisting of two full-backs – Declan Rice and Aaron Cresswell – will be tested against the Chelsea attack.
Probable Lineup (3-4-2-1): Hart; Rice, Ogbonna, Cresswell; Zabaleta, Noble, Kouyate, Masuaku; Mario, Lanzini; Arnautovic
1. West Ham Asian Handicap + 2.0 @ 1.625
2. Both Teams to Score – YES @ 2.05
1. Javier Hernandez to score anytime @ 5.00
1. Bridge Blues – David Moyes has won none of his 14 previous away matches against Chelsea, losing eight and drawing six.
2. Big Problem – In fact, the West Ham manager has not recorded a win in any of his previous 29 away matches against the Top six sides, losing 20 of them.
3. Chelsea themselves have been in a rut lately, amassing just 2 wins in their last six games – the same number of wins and points as West Ham in the same number of games.
4. Dry run – Eden Hazard’s form seems to also have taken a backseat, with the Belgian not contributing any goal or assist in Chelsea’s last five games.
5. Marko on the Mark – Arnautovic scored a brace in the win against Southampton and in fact, has 5 goals in his last 3 games for club and country combined.
Player to Watch
The player has emerged as one of the brightest stars within the current West Ham setup and has managed to establish himself as a regular at the back under David Moyes. The youngster will be hoping to be the difference, especially with Chelsea’s attack certain to have several chances to run at him.
Chelsea 1-1 West Ham
Although, Chelsea would need the points, their stuttering form makes them susceptible to the visitors on Sunday, who themselves need the three points in order to move closer towards ensuring their Premier League status for the next season.
While Chelsea’s attack could be pumped up to get revenge for their inability to find the back of the net when they visited the London Stadium earlier in the season, West Ham should be able to match them. We expect the Hammers to come away with at least a point.