West Ham United welcome Chelsea on Sunday in what will be a fiercely contested London derby. The home side got their first win of the season last weekend against Everton and Manuel Pellegrini will be hoping that it will kickstart their season. It won’t be easy to make it back-to-back wins as they face one of the two Premier League teams that have a 100% record. The visitors had a slow summer, but it hasn’t impacted their start as Maurizio Sarri has got them flying.
There was a lot of optimism around the London Stadium at the beginning of the season after they spent big over the summer. The likes of Felipe Anderson, Andriy Yarmolenko and Jack Wilshere arrived to excite supporters, but they lost their first four matches. The pressure started to increase on Pellegrini, but the Chilean remained cool and last weekend’s victory was testament to that. As the team start to click, better performances will follow.
Chelsea have been excellent during the early stages of the season and they already look a good bet to return to the Champions League at the first attempt. They remain a level or two below Manchester City and Liverpool, but they are certainly capable of challenging at the top end of the division. Eden Hazard looks to have a new lease of life under Sarri and he could be set for his best ever season in England. If he does, a title challenge isn’t out of the question.
Only Mohamed Salah has scored or assisted (23) more Premier League goals than Marko Arnautovic in 2018. The Austrian has contributed 16 goals.
Eden Hazard is only the fourth player to score more than one hat-trick in the Premier League for Chelsea.
There were a number of signings made by West Ham over the summer and it was difficult to predict how Pellegrini would line-up. Yarmolenko arrived from Borussia Dortmund, but he had to settle for a role from the bench for the first four matches. He was given an opportunity to start against Everton and he took full advantage of the situation. The Ukrainian international scored twice and caused a lot of problems with is movement from the left-wing, linking up well with Arnautovic. It wasn’t a perfect display, but he was smart in possession as shown by his pass success rate of 82%. Chelsea have faults at the back and there will be opportunities for the home side. Yarmolenko will carry a threat on Sunday.
One of the key areas for Sarri’s Chelsea is the midfield. Over the last three years, Kante has been one of the best players in the Premier League and he will be vital for the Blues once more. This season, he has been given more license to roam in the midfield and that has enhanced how effective he is. He averages 3.6 ball recoveries, 0.8 shots and 0.8 key passes per game. The Frenchman is relentless in his running and he covers every blade of grass. In away fixtures, he is crucial for Chelsea, as he can dominate the central areas and ensure that the attackers have enough of the ball. He will need to do that on Sunday if the visitors are to maintain their 100% record.
Marko Arnautovic is a slight doubt with a knee injury. Javier Hernandez and Jack Wilshere will be unavailable as they suffer from an ankle injury and illness respectively. Andy Carroll, Winston Reid and Manuel Lanzini remain on the long-term injury list.
Pedro is a doubt after a nasty collision in the Europa League game against PAOK. Mateo Kovacic should be back from a dead leg.
This is going to be one of the better fixtures of the weekend, as there is attacking flair on show for both teams. Chelsea will be favourites due to their 100% record, but they faced a difficult test in the Europa League and there could be fatigue on Sunday. West Ham are far from the finished article, but they will be determined to put in a good performance in front of their home fans against a London rival. An entertaining score draw could await.
West Ham United 2-2 Chelsea