Chelsea are on a great run following the restart, having won all three of their matches. They will be travelling to the London Stadium to face West Ham United, a side battling for their lives at the bottom of the table. It is a fixture that the Hammers have done well in during recent seasons, with Chelsea only managing three wins from their last ten in this particular London derby. In the earlier meeting this campaign, West Ham sprung a surprise as they took three points at Stamford Bridge. Aaron Cresswell scored the goal on that day.
West Ham are one of three teams on 27 points, but they are the ones currently out of the relegation zone on goal difference. Although it is currently keeping them out of the danger zone, there are only five goals separating the Hammers from Aston Villa and Bournemouth. This underlines why it is important for them to continue to keep things as tight as possible at the back. A huge defeat to Chelsea would cause them a lot of issues in this regard. Their performances since the restart have been a worry, but their opposition on Wednesday have played twice since David Moyes’ men last stepped out on the pitch. This could give them an advantage this week.
It is shaping up to be an excellent first season for Frank Lampard. Following the departure of Eden Hazard, it was expected that the rookie manager would struggle to get them into the top four. They have consolidated their position since the restart and beaten two teams above them in the table, albeit the Leicester match was in the FA Cup. They will now have confidence that they can push on, challenge for third place and lift the FA Cup. If they manage that, this will be looked back on as a fine debut campaign for Lampard and his staff.
West Ham have failed to score in any of their last three Premier League fixtures.
Chelsea have now managed to win five matches across all competitions. This is their best run since they managed seven in a row during September and October.
The Chelsea forward could be coming to the end of his career at Stamford Bridge, with doubts over whether he will agree a longer term extension. If he isn’t, he looks to be finishing his time with the Blues in great form, with three excellent performances following the restart. He has managed to contribute a goal and an assist during these matches, but his overall contribution has been huge. During the game against Leicester, he got the assist for the goal. However, it was his work off the ball that allowed him to stand out. It would be easy for the Brazilian to go through the motions given his contractual situation. He ended the match with six tackles and three interceptions. It is this tenacity that has ensured he has remained central under an array of managers at the club. Lampard will be keen to keep him around for the next couple of seasons at least. In the Premier League, he has six goals and five assists. This may not stand out, but it is his consistency and selflessness that makes him key to this Chelsea team.
There has been speculation over Declan Rice’s long term future in recent weeks. Chelsea have been heavily linked with a move for the versatile England international. He spent time with the Blues as a schoolboy and he has a close friendship with Mason Mount. On paper, it looks to be a move that would appeal to the 21-year-old. If there is substance to the rumours, it could give him greater motivation to deliver a good performance on Wednesday night. Since the restart, he has been used as a centre back and a central midfielder. Rice’s long term future is likely to be as a holding midfielder, the position that he has already played in for England. Moyes could task him with marking close friend Mount during this match, which will add more intrigue to the contest. During his last match against Tottenham, he was easily the best player for West Ham. He completed nine ball recoveries, four successful dribbles and finished with a pass success rate of 84%. Despite his youth, he is a figure of calm and maturity in the current team under Moyes.
Sebastian Haller and Arthur Masuaku are both major doubts for the home side. Robert Snodgrass is a long term absentee with a lower back injury. Felipe Anderson and Manuel Lanzini are both pushing for recalls to the starting eleven.
For the visitors, Christian Pulisic and Andreas Christensen are both doubts for the trip across London. Fikayo Tomori remains on the sidelines. Olivier Giroud could return to the starting eleven after being rested in the FA Cup.
This is the type of fixture that West Ham have historically done well in. They can get themselves up for a London derby and their recent record against Chelsea should give them optimism. Their fitness levels could also be an advantage, with Chelsea having played 180 minutes of intense football since the last West Ham match. That said, there has been little in their recent performances to suggest that they can beat a team currently in the top four. The Blues will likely rotate, but they should still have enough to take three points.
West Ham 1-2 Chelsea