There will be revenge on the minds when Chelsea host West Ham United this weekend at Stamford Bridge. The Hammers won the previous meeting between the two clubs with Marko Arnautovic scoring the winning goal towards the beginning of David Moyes’ reign at the club. There have been ups and downs since, but it has become clear that the Austrian international is the main man at the club. For the home side, their supporters will be looking for a reaction after a disappointing collapse against Tottenham last weekend.
The Blues are currently eight points off of the Champions League places and face an uphill battle to qualify for next season’s competition. If they do miss out as expected, that will be seen as a failure after they won the league last season. There has been friction between the board and Antonio Conte since the beginning of the campaign and they have been compounded by the mistakes made in the transfer market. They are a long way from challenging Manchester City at the top of the division and that is a concern heading into another summer rebuild. It is important that they continue to put the pressure on Tottenham and Liverpool, but their fate is no longer in their hands.
Although West Ham are not safe yet, they took a major step to survival with a convincing home win over Southampton last weekend. They are now five points above the bottom three and that has given them breathing room with only seven matches to play. Like Chelsea, they will face another summer of upheaval with doubts over Moyes’ future and a number of positions that need strengthening. In addition to the problems on the field, there remains a tense relationship between the board and supporters, which also needs to be addressed. A strong finish to the campaign would help the club move in the right direction.
Chelsea have scored the fewest amount of goals of any team in the top-six with only 53. That is an area they will need to improve this summer if they are to challenge again.
West Ham have conceded 57 goals this season, which is more than all but one other team in the Premier League. They have conceded four in each of their last two away matches.
The Brazilian international has been the standout player for Chelsea in recent weeks and will be looking to maintain his good form heading into the World Cup this summer. Willian is currently in a great position to secure a starting berth for his country, but he will need to finish the season strongly to keep hold of the spot. His emergence has come at a good time for the Blues, as they had been overly reliant on Eden Hazard up until the new year and that made them predictable to play against. Despite the impact of Willian, they have still struggled to win matches and that is why they are facing an uphill battle to qualify for next season’s Champions League. During his last eight matches across all competitions, the attacker has contributed five goals and two assists, which is an excellent return. His direct style and skill make him a nightmare to defend against. Considering West Ham have one of the worst defences in the league, it is likely that the 29-year-old will have a big part to play this weekend.
There have been a lot of problems at West Ham this season from boardroom level to the squad, but Marko Arnautovic has been a huge success since joining the club. He started poorly under Slaven Bilic and there were some murmurings from supporters that they saw him as a waste of money. However, he has been given a new lease of life by David Moyes and he is one of the main reasons that the club are likely to stay in the Premier League. Last weekend, he scored a brace as the Hammers overcame West Ham in a massive game at the bottom of the table. His movement in the final third and composure when being presented with a chance have both stood out. The 28-year-old has nine goals in the league and is the club’s top scorer. It was his goal that separated the teams during the previous meeting and he will be the danger man for the visitors in the return fixture.
Ross Barkley, Pedro, Thibaut Courtois and Davide Zappacosta are all trying to battle back from various knocks to feature this weekend. Meanwhile, Ethan Ampadu and David Luiz remain on the sidelines. Alvaro Morata will keep his place after scoring against Tottenham last Sunday.
Javier Hernandez and Manuel Lanzini are both doubts for the trip to Stamford Bridge, while Michail Antonio is likely to miss out. James Collins and Andy Carroll are a couple of weeks away from a return, while Pedro Obiang and Winston Reid are long-term absentees.
Chelsea must win this weekend as they attempt to finish the season with a flourish. Momentum is important in football and it can transition across seasons, which is why the club must end this campaign with a good run. Although Antonio Conte is unlikely to remain with the club, this squad will stay together and there is ability within to perform a lot better than they have during the current season. West Ham will be up for this game and want to pile more misery on Chelsea, with the incentive of doing the double of their London rivals. However, the home side should have enough to take the three points this weekend, with an attack of Hazard, Willian and Morata being too much for a team that concedes a lot of goals away from home.
Chelsea 2-0 West Ham