Chelsea will have the chance to climb up to third on the Premier League table when they welcome West Ham United to Stamford Bridge on Monday.
Gameweek 33 of the 2018-19 Premier League season will come to an end with a London derby that always gets the tempers flaring. Chelsea will play hosts to West Ham United at Stamford Bridge, knowing well that a win will land them in a solid position for a top four finish.
It has been a hit and miss campaign for Chelsea so far, especially since the turn of the year, wherein they have failed to string together a run of several successive wins. But, with the Blues following up a 2-1 win over Cardiff City with a 3-0 thrashing of Brighton & Hove Albion, it looks like they are regaining form at the right time.
West Ham United, on the other hand, have started faltering just when it had looked like even a seventh-placed finish might have been possible. The Hammers have produced listless performances against Cardiff and Everton, while only narrowly beating Huddersfield Town last month. And, their inconsistent run of results has dropped them out of the top 10.
The reverse fixture, played at the London Stadium back in September, was a dreary affair that ended in a goalless draw. Ahead of the latest meeting between the two sides, The Hard Tackle takes a closer look at the encounter.
Team News & Tactics
Maurizio Sarri has a few minor issues to monitor ahead of the visit of West Ham United. The likes of Marcos Alonso (hamstring), Ethan Ampadu (back), Ruben Loftus-Cheek (hamstring) and Pedro (knock) are all set to be subjected to late fitness tests to determine their availability.
Alonso’s iffy situation means that it is likely Emerson Palmieri will retain his place as the left-back. On the opposite flank, there is no looking past Cesar Azpilicueta, while Antonio Rudiger should return to the starting lineup to partner David Luiz at the heart of the Chelsea defence, which will provide cover to Kepa Arrizabalaga.
In the middle of the park, N’Golo Kante should start alongside Jorginho despite Sarri’s recent comments that the Frenchman will be rotated in the run-in. Kante and Jorginho are likely to be joined by Ross Barkley, with Loftus-Cheek only making the bench.
Up ahead in attack, Callum Hudson-Odoi should have done enough to keep his place in the starting lineup after impressing against Brighton. Eden Hazard is a certain starter on the left flank, while Olivier Giroud might make way for Gonzalo Higuain, keeping the UEFA Europa League tie against Slavia Praha in mind.
Probable Lineup (4-3-3): Kepa; Azpilicueta, Rudiger, Luiz, Emerson; Kante, Jorginho, Barkley; Hudson-Odoi, Higuain, Hazard
West Ham United
Manuel Pellegrini has plenty of problems to deal with ahead of the cross-London trip to face Chelsea. On Monday, the West Ham United manager will be without Winston Reid (knee), Jack Wilshere (ankles), Carlos Sanchez (knee), Andy Carroll (ankle) and Andriy Yarmolenko (achilles).
The good news though, is that the likes of Felipe Anderson, Samir Nasri and Ryan Federicks have all recovered from their minor injuries and will be available. Among the aforementioned trio, the return of Anderson is positive news for West Ham, with the Brazilian likely to slot in on the left flank.
On the opposite flank, Robert Snodgrass is a certain starter, meaning Manuel Lanzini should drop out to the bench. Snodgrass and Anderson ought to flank Declan Rice and Mark Noble, who will aim to keep things tight in the middle of the park and cut the supply line for Jorginho and Hazard.
Upfront, Marko Arnautovic should have Javier Hernandez as his strike partner, with Lucas Perez missing out. The back four though, should be unchanged, with Pablo Zabaleta and Aaron Cresswell being the full-backs, while Issa Diop and Angelo Ogbonna should form the central defensive partnership.
Probable Lineup (4-4-2): Fabianski; Zabaleta, Diop, Ogbonna, Cresswell; Snodgrass, Noble, Rice, Anderson; Arnautovic, Hernandez
- Chelsea are unbeaten in their last 12 home league meetings with West Ham United (W8 D4) since a 2-3 loss in September 2002.
- After a run of eight London derby matches without a win (D5 L3), West Ham United have won four of their last five in the Premier League (D1).
- Chelsea haven’t lost a Premier League game at home on a Monday since December 1994 (2-3 vs Manchester United), winning 11 and drawing three since.
- No side has conceded fewer home goals than Chelsea in the Premier League this season (10). Only Arsenal and Manchester United (2) have scored more than once as a visiting side at Stamford Bridge in the current campaign.
- Javier Hernandez has scored in each of his last four Premier League away games against Chelsea. Only four players have scored in five consecutive away Premier League games against an opponent – Dion Dublin vs Tottenham Hotspur, Alan Shearer vs Leeds United, Ruud van Nistelrooy vs Newcastle United and Robert Pires vs Tottenham.
Player to Watch
It has been a season that has been the making of Declan Rice, who has managed to establish himself as one for the future and perhaps, even present. With a place in the English national squad as well as the West Ham United first-team secure, the only way is up for the young midfielder.
The next big test for him will be against a club he played for in his youth footballing days. Rice will have the unenviable task of keeping Eden Hazard and Callum Hudson-Odoi quiet, but if he manages to do so, his star will have risen further, and one can be sure, the interest in him will only rise further with a solid showing.
Chelsea 2-0 West Ham United
The match pits two sides that have been the epitome of inconsistency lately. But, what separates Chelsea from West Ham United is the fact that the Blues are one of the best performers at home this season, which does not bode well for Manuel Pellegrini’s men.
With the Blues conceding the fewest home goals in the current Premier League campaign, it will hardly be surprising if West Ham are unable to find the back of the net on Monday. And, with Eden Hazard and Callum Hudson-Odoi in fine form, it could be a long night for the Hammers.
Expect a competitive encounter on Monday, albeit one that should see Chelsea prevail. The Hard Tackle predicts a 2-0 win for Maurizio Sarri & co. which should see them return to the top four.