Chelsea host West Ham United on Monday as they continue their hunt for a top four finish. It won’t be an easy game, as the Hammers relish London derbies, but at this stage of the season, there is no room for error. The victory over Brighton was impressive and highlighted the better things about the team. It is important that Maurizio Sarri doesn’t move away from that on Monday, as it looks like he has finally found a winning style.
The victory during the week has taken them onto 63 points, which is level with Arsenal and only one fewer point than Tottenham in third place. They are well placed and in a position where they can take advantage of any slip-ups made by the two teams in question. Manchester United are two points further back, as we approach an exciting end to the season at the top of the table. It is imperative for Sarri’s short-term future that he does lead the team into those top four positions.
West Ham are entering the final six games with relatively little to play for. Manuel Pellegrini is a winner and with the team currently in 11th position, he will be desperate to finish the season in the top half. However, for the players, there is little to gain from achieving this, therefore it will be interesting to see if the manager can get them motivated for the final fixtures. There have been improvements made over the course of the year, but they remain inconsistent and that is a worry heading into the summer.
- Callum Hudson-Odoi has been involved in nine goals (four goals and five assists) in his nine starts for Chelsea this season.
- West Ham have conceded seven goals in their last three Premier League matches.
Many expected the England international to leave Chelsea last summer, but the club retained his services and he has shown why on the number of occasions he has played in the first team. Although he hasn’t been given a regular starting place, he has remained impressive and he proved his quality during the week with a standout performance against Brighton. The midfielder scored and assisted in the same game for the first time in his Chelsea career. His goal was an excellent strike, that displayed the quality he possesses. Supporters have been calling for him to be given a regular starting role ahead of the likes of Ross Barkley and Mateo Kovacic. The club are approaching an important part of their season as they are competing on two fronts, with an ambition of qualifying for next season’s Champions League. Loftus-Cheek has played himself into the team and needs to be given responsibility over this period. He offers dynamism in central areas, which the team desperately needs to offer a threat. Monday’s game provides another chance for him to impress.
It is good to see the Argentine international back on the pitch after a lengthy injury at the beginning of the season. He offers creativity and an ability to produce moments out of nothing. This is why he will be important against Chelsea. The visitors are likely to spend long periods without the ball, which means they have to make the most of the possession they do have. Their opponents haven’t been amazing in defence, which means that there will be space for West Ham to exploit. Lanzini is the player most likely to do the damage. There have been flashes of his quality since his return, but he has yet to contribute a goal or an assist. That is unlikely to continue for much longer, especially as his match fitness and confidence increases. He is a player Chelsea will be worried about on Monday.
Hudson-Odoi and Loftus-Cheek will be hoping to keep their starting berths after excellent performances against Brighton. However, Sarri is unpredictable and may take the decision to start them from the bench. Marcos Alonso and Pedro should both be fit for the home side.
Felipe Anderson, Samir Nasri and Ryan Fredericks will all be available for West Ham, which provides a timely boost for Pellegrini. There remains a number of players on the sidelines, including Jack Wilshere, Andy Carroll and Andriy Yarmolenko.
West Ham have the players to get a result on Monday. Chelsea are not as good as either of the two teams leading the Premier League, therefore there is always a chance they may drop points. However, the recent performances of the Hammers have been a worry, especially at the back. They are leaking goals and the home side showed during the week that things are clicking for them in attack. A home win seems a safe bet.
Chelsea 3-1 West Ham