Chelsea travel across London to the Olympic Stadium to face bitter rivals West Ham in what promises to be a mouth-watering London derby. The Blues will be looking to continue their excellent form of late – 19 points picked up from a possible 21 in the Premier League – and Antonio Conte’s men will be hoping to cash in on any slip-ups from the Manchester sides above them, who meet on Sunday.
West Ham were spirited in defeat against Manchester City but they are still embroiled in a relegation battle and David Moyes will be aware of the need for his team to start picking up points quickly.
The 3-4-2-1 formation currently being deployed by Conte is giving the Blues a greater attacking threat than earlier in the season, allowing Eden Hazard in particular to flourish but the defensive side of the game within this formation can still look a little shaky. The Blues have only kept one clean sheet in their last 4 games in all competitions and they won’t want to afford the Hammers any chances.
Thibaut Courtois was once again largely a spectator against his former club Atletico Madrid in midweek and couldn’t have done much about Saul Niguez’s goal.
Andreas Christensen impressed again for the Blues and he has become a real find this season, whilst Cesar Azpilicueta and Gary Cahill provide a really strong defensive platform for the Blues to be able to operate from.
Davide Zappacosta adopted a left-wing-back role against Atletico in an impressive performance but Marcos Alonso will be expected to return here in such a big game. Victor Moses’ rehab has stepped up in recent weeks with starts in his last two games and he should get the nod over Zappacosta, although Conte will be comfortable playing either of them at right-wing-back.
Tiemoue Bakayoko has struggled in recent weeks and was poor again against Atletico, meaning Danny Drinkwater and N’Golo Kante should be providing the legs in midfield with Cesc Fabregas tasked with providing the creative influence in front of them.
Eden Hazard has been in scintillating form of late, scoring eight goals in his last nine games in all competitions and his influence on the side seems to grow with each game.
Alvaro Morata will lead the line after another goal against Newcastle last Saturday and a strong showing against Atletico Madrid; the Spaniard looks to be filling Diego Costa’s void with ease.
Predicted Starting XI
Local derbies can often throw up surprises, something that Antonio Conte and will men will have to be fully aware of and the West Ham faithful are sure to be up for last season’s Champions arriving in town. Chelsea, though, are in excellent form; Eden Hazard and Alvaro Morata are beginning to develop an excellent understanding and although West Ham frustrated Manchester City last week, they didn’t look like being able to keep them out for 90 minutes – so Chelsea may have to adopt an equally patient approach.
The pressure is all on Chelsea to go to West Ham and get a result. If they do, they can sit back and watch the Manchester teams above them slug it out on Sunday.
West Ham United 0 – 2 Chelsea