Chelsea will look to strengthen their top four credentials as they face West Ham United at Stamford Bridge on Saturday in a London derby.
Chelsea are very much in a complex situation in the Champions League after their latest fixture against Valencia ended in a 2-2 draw. The Blues are in a much more comfortable position in the Premier League, though, firmly placed in the top four, with a seven point gap between them and fifth-placed Wolves.
Frank Lampard would want his team to return to winning ways, having lost against Manchester City and subsequently drawn at Valencia in a matter of days. Chelsea are also likely to look at bridging the gap between them and Leicester City as well as league leaders Liverpool.
West Ham are on a horrid run of form; a run that has seen Manuel Pellegrini’s side fail to win in seven consecutive Premier League games as of now. The West Ham manager will be under a lot of pressure, with his side just one place and three points above the relegation zone.
Although it is after all a London derby and a fixture in which West Ham have enjoyed mild success in recent times, Stamford Bridge has remained a bogey ground for West Ham to visit. Ahead of the match on Saturday, we take a closer look at the two teams.
Team News & Tactics
Ruben Loftus-Cheek continues his spell on the sidelines. But, there are increased worries for Frank Lampard, with Callum Hudson-Odoi, Ross Barkley, Tammy Abraham and Antonio Rudiger all struggling to be available to feature against West Ham on Saturday.
Fikayo Tomori was rested during the midweek and should start in central defence, with Kurt Zouma likely to be his partner. Cesar Azpilicueta is certain to start, but his position is yet unclear. The Spaniard could be stationed on the left, making way for Reece James on the right, with Kepa Arrizabalaga in goal.
The midfield is set in stone, with N’Golo Kante, Jorginho and Mateo Kovacic starting unless one or more of them get sidelined before the match. In attack, Christian Pulisic has firmly established himself as a regular at Chelsea after some early signs of struggle and should be on the left, with Willian on the right.
Tammy Abraham was forced to come off against Valencia and will miss the match against West Ham, which means a rare start for Michy Batshuayi in attack for Chelsea in the Premier League.
Probable Lineup (4-3-3): Kepa; James, Zouma, Tomori, Azpilicueta; Kante, Jorginho, Kovacic; Willian, Batshuayi, Pulisic
West Ham United
Jack Wilshere, Manuel Lanzini and Lukasz Fabianski are still sidelined with their respective injury issues. Issa Diop has also joined them in the list of players unavailable for the trip to Chelsea. The central defender is set to serve a one-match suspension after accruing five yellow cards to his name.
We should see Roberto continue in goal for West Ham for the time being. Ryan Fredericks, Angelo Ogbonna, Fabian Balbuena and Aaron Cresswell are likely to form the back four against Chelsea.
Declan Rice will continue his position in the hole between defence and midfield, with Mark Noble assigned the role of a pure central midfielder. Michail Antonio and Felipe Anderson should be entrusted to provide width going forward, with Pablo Fornals likely to don the number 10 role. Sebastien Haller should lead the line for West Ham against Chelsea.
Probable Lineup (4-2-3-1): Roberto; Fredericks, Ogbonna, Balbuena, Cresswell; Noble, Rice; Antonio, Fornals, Anderson; Haller
1. Both Teams to Score – YES @ 1.70
2. Michy Batshuayi to score anytime @ 1.66
1. Full Time Result – Draw @ 6.00
2. Sebastien Haller to score anytime @ 3.50
1. West Ham United are without a win in their last seven Premier League games (8 in all competitions).
2. West Ham have earned just one point out of a maximum 21 in their last seven Premier League matches.
3. Chelsea have scored in each of West Ham’s last five league visits to Stamford Bridge.
4. Chelsea have won their last three Premier League home games.
5. After his hat-trick against Wolves, Tammy Abraham has scored just 3 goals in his last 8 Premier League games for Chelsea.
Player to Watch
Tammy Abraham is set to miss out for Chelsea against West Ham. While we could see Frank Lampard going for Christian Pulisic in a False Nine role, Michy Batshuayi is likely to be given a chance to prove himself as a starter in the league and not just a super-sub.
The Belgian has come in handy whenever called upon. With the January transfer window approaching, Chelsea have been linked with strikers and could move for them if their transfer ban is lifted. But, Batshuayi could have a major say in it and prove that Chelsea already have a reliable competition for Tammy in attack.
Chelsea 1-1 West Ham United
West Ham need a miraculous performance to turn their season around and the match against Chelsea could present them with an opportunity. The Hammers will be aware of the absence of Tammy Abraham and will look to pressure Chelsea into making the defensive errors or lapse of judgement.
Chelsea will continue the trend of scoring against West Ham at Stamford Bridge. But, we might just see West Ham come in determined to take something home. We are going for a scoring draw on Saturday.