London derby awaits us on Sunday as West Ham United look for their second win of the season when Chelsea pay a visit.
Manuel Pellegrini will be relieved to finally get the season underway, with West Ham securing a long-awaited win, that too against a resilient Everton side that had not lost a game up until last gameweek and in convincing fashion – a 3-1 scoreline.
In fairness, the Hammers did face Arsenal and Liverpool in the first five fixtures while losing the other two matches narrowly to Bournemouth and Wolves, two teams that find themselves towards the top half of the table thanks to their good start to the season.
But, no team has had a better start than Chelsea. The Blues have five wins out of five, all while adjusting to a new tactical system and a new manager. Their 4-1 win over Cardiff was a warning shot towards the rivals signalling that Chelsea are ready to compete for top honours in the 2018-19 season.
Chelsea were handed a shock defeat in their last away match against West Ham and Pellegrini will hope for his side to emulate the same level of success on Sunday. Ahead of their latest matchup, we take a closer look at the two squads.
Team News & Tactics
West Ham United
Winston Reid, Manuel Lanzini and Andy Carroll are all out for the Sunday fixture, with Jack Wilshere also not recovering in time to be in the reckoning to face Chelsea. Chicharito has also been labelled shy from match fitness.
But, it is Marko Arnautovic’s availability that Manuel Pellegrini will be sweating upon. The Austrian was one of the main drivers behind West Ham’s win over Everton and not having the forward within the lineup against Chelsea will be a big blow to their chances.
Manuel Pellegrini would not want to rotate any players and try to change the winning formula, with 4-1-4-1 likely to be the formation. Declan Rice was the subject of much praise from Pellegrini, who told the youngster to learn from all the matches. He should retain his place as the anchor man.
There should not be any changes to the starting eleven unless Marko Arnautovic is unfit, which will see Lucas Perez being handed a start after some touchline drama in the 3-1 win over Everton, wherein the former Arsenal man refused to warm up.
Probable Lineup (4-1-4-1): Fabianski; Zabaleta, Balbuena, Diop, Masuaku; Rice; Yarmolenko, Noble, Obiang, Anderson; Arnautovic
While Marco Van Ginkel remains on the sidelines and Emerson Palmieri is also a doubt, the two stars whose fitness will be crucial are Mateo Kovacic and Pedro. The duo will be assessed before the match and could miss out against West Ham.
David Luiz, Cesar Azpilicueta and Eden Hazard were all rested during the midweek and should make their way back into the lineup. Kovacic and Pedro should be replaced by Cesc Fabregas and Willian respectively.
As far as the forward line is concerned, Alvaro Morata’s trepid outing against PAOK is likely to see Olivier Giroud start upfront.
Probable Lineup (4-3-3): Kepa; Azpilicueta, Rudiger, Luiz, Alonso; Kante, Jorginho, Fabregas; Willian, Giroud, Hazard
1. West Ham Asian Handicap +1.0 @ 1.890
2. Over 2.5 Match Goals @ 1.57
3. Olivier Giroud to score anytime @ 2.10
1. West Ham Draw No Bet @ 3.25
1. Chelsea have managed just two wins in their last five league games against West Ham.
2. In fact, West Ham have scored in each of their last five league outings against Chelsea.
3. West Ham have lost their first two home games of the 2018-19 Premier League season. The Hammers have never lost their first three home games of a league campaign.
4. Marko Arnautovic has been directly involved in 4 of West Ham’s 5 goals so far in the Premier League (3 goals, 1 assist).
5. With a win over West Ham, Maurizio Sarri can join the likes of Carlo Ancelotti and Pep Guardiola as the only managers to win their first six league games in the Premier League.
Player to Watch
Arguably the breakout star for West Ham and one of the stars to look out for in the Premier League, Declan Rice has managed to retain his spot in the starting eleven despite a change of managers. Manuel Pellegrini has seen the potential in the Englishman, who will be looking to build upon his showing against Everton.
Chelsea will be a sterner test for Rice. But, it should also be an excellent learning, the entirety of the 90 minutes. We can’t expect fireworks from Declan Rice, with the position that he will be deployed in. But, he will be tasked with the responsibility of cutting the channels between the Chelsea midfield and attack.
West Ham United 2-4 Chelsea
West Ham should come out of the gates quicker of the two sides, with the Hammers having the midweek off compared to Chelsea. The Blues, on the other hand, will have a fresh Eden Hazard at their disposal, which can often spell danger for the opposition.
West Ham and their chances of landing a shock result will depend on Marko Arnautovic’s fitness. Should the Austrian start from the get-go, we will get an almost even contest. But, Chelsea should edge it, narrowly.