We preview Monday night’s EPL clash between West Ham and Chelsea, which is being played at the London Stadium.
The simple mathematics dictate that Chelsea require 29 more points to guarantee the title this season. And one feels that three away points at London rivals West Ham on Monday night may prove pivotal in that quest. They lost an ill-tempered EFL Cup tie at the London Stadium this season, and Conte will be wary of the threat that Bilic’s side pose, with or without Payet. West Ham have improved in the last few months, quietly extricating themselves out of a potential relegation battle the signings of Fonte and Snodgrass have rejuvenated a squad that had become overly reliant on the form of departed star Dimitri Payet. This should be a cracking Monday night fixture that could give us some indication of whether Chelsea have it in them to bottle it.
West Ham United v Chelsea | Monday 6 March | London Stadium | 22:00
To Win (90 Mins)
West Ham 9/2 | Draw 3/1 | Chelsea 11/20
West Ham United
West Ham really dominated the second half against Watford, rightfully finding the equaliser and avoiding defeat. Bilic has been sweating on the fitness of Andy Carroll, but early reports do seem to suggest that the bulky striker will be available. Ogbonna and Tore will be out for the rest of the season, while Diafra Sakho remains unavailable. Bilic will need the physical presence of Carroll to disrupt Chelsea’s stubborn rearguard. Luiz has been immense in the air this year but Carroll’s presence could potentially give them some form of ascendancy through the route one stuff. It will be interesting to see how advanced Antonio and Cresswell are willing to get, especially with the counterattacking threat posed by Chelsea.
That’s the catch 22 for Bilic. West Ham are far more dangerous when Antonio and Cresswell are overlapping, but they are also more susceptible to that quick counterattack. West Ham have shown in their two ties with City that they have a slight inability to change tact for the bigger guns, being overrun both times in embarrassing fashion. Lanzini will need to find space that Kante will be unwilling to relinquish, while one wonders how Mark Noble will fare in the middle of the park here.
Chelsea seem to be grabbing the frontrunner’s mantle by the horns, with a ruthlessly efficient display against Swansea. Cesc Fabregas slotted in brilliantly, but Conte may revert to the Matic-Kante combination in this game, especially giving the nature of that EFL Cup defeat. Pedro and Hazard were sensational on Saturday, and were it not for Fabianski – one horror error excluded – things may have been a lot worse for the Swans.
I think that going away to West Ham should actually suit the current Chelsea blueprint to a tee. As I said earlier, West Ham seem to adopt a fairly gung-ho attitude towards the top sides, confident in their ability to break them down. This Chelsea side is too cunning for that and will just look for those lightning fast breakaways. Furthermore, West Ham’s fullbacks lack the discipline necessary to keep Alonso and – in particular – Moses at bay.
Verdict: Chelsea 11/20
West Ham are a good team, almost too much so for their own good in this situation. An inferior side – say a Watford or Middleborough – would get ten men behind the ball and frustrate Conte’s side. West Ham have quality players running about who will be aiming to express themselves. I don’t think they have the formal discipline to keep Chelsea out.
Written by Damien Kayat for