Big game for the top four!
Chelsea travel to play local rivals West Ham at the London Stadium on Saturday evening for what is a massive game in terms of the top four race. West Ham and Chelsea sit 5th and 4th level on points with each other. Chelsea are ahead on goal difference. West Ham under Moyes have done extremely well this season to be in and around Europe at this stage. A place in the top 7 looks like a certainty for the Hammers but a top four finish would be a massive achievement. West Ham’s upcoming fixtures are the most favourable of the top 7, Chelsea is West Ham’s last game against a direct rival for those top four spots. West Ham in the last 5 games have won 2 drawn 1 and lost 2.
Chelsea go into this game won 2 drawn 2 and lost 1 of our last 5 games. The draw against Brighton was a missed opportunity although given the circumstances externally no one was really surprised. Outside Chelsea the teams might see he Blues as the enemy and a point needs to proven by the likes of West Ham that they can compete with the top 6. West Ham and other 13 teams in the league will for sure use this to drive them on against top 6 opponents. For Chelsea this game is a big one, although every single game from now until the end of the season is big. Literally every game is against a tough opponent. The players need to get back into the zone mentally because they really seemed far away from it against Brighton. Chelsea need to play like they did against Palace, blistering in attack. Most of West Ham’s goals come in the counter or via set pieces and Chelsea are solid at the back. It is offensively where we need to perform like we did against Palace and if we can be clinical then we can beat a West Ham side who have shipped in 10 goals in their last 5 games.
Chelsea Team Preview
Chelsea will be without Kovacic for this game but Tuchel said the rest are fully fit. Mendy should return to goal, while Azpilicueta, Christensen, and Rudiger make up the back 3. Reece James, and Chilwell should be the wing backs with Jorginho and Kante starting in midfield. Up front is always an opinion rather than a prediction. With the game against Madrid on Tuesday I would start Pulisic, Mount, and Havertz up front. Of course any one of Werner, Hudson-Odoi, or Ziyech could start as well. Giroud and Tammy are also there as the alternative up front and while I would like to see Tammy start I don’t think he will even be on the bench. It’s a top team though and it’s all about getting those goals and the front 3 selected have all been in a patch of good form.
West Ham Team Preview
West Ham have settled on a system that works for them at the moment. Fabianski remains a trusty goalkeeper, while Diop, Dawson, and Cresswell have added steal at the back but with Dawson suspended I think Balbuena will start. Coufal and Masuaku provide the width as the wing backs while Noble has done well in place of Rice alongside Soucek. Fornals gives that creativity right behind Bowen and Lingard provide the threat up front. Lingard has been a revelation for the Hammers since signing on loan from Manchester United in January. Benrahma is the most obvious threat from the bench for the Hammers. West Ham are open at the back but they can also counter with immense pace.
Starting XI Prediction
No one ever thought West Ham would be a direct rival to a top four place for Chelsea but that is the case going into this game. The winner would create a 3 point gap between the two. Chelsea were clearly distracted on Tuesday night but we need to bring out A game and hopefully replicate that Palace attacking performance. If those two things happen and we stay our usual solid self at the back then we leave with 3 points. COME ON CHELSEA!!!