West Ham are inching towards desperation. Defeat, albeit at the end of a decent performance, to Manchester City last weekend was expected, but that does not soften the blow of sitting 19th. Just one point from the foot of the table, David Moyes’ side are also now below Crystal Palace.
It’s been a nasty start for Moyes at the Hammers. The 4-0 defeat to Everton was disastrous all over the field, and a trip to the near-perfect Manchester City is followed by a London derby with the champions. Oh, and after they’ve negotiated Antonio Conte’s side, they face Arsenal.
Chelsea have picked their form up after an indifferent start. The Blues have given themselves a three-point gap to fourth placed Liverpool, and are playing with fluency in attack. Their defence – as Newcastle discovered last weekend – is still making errors that were so very rare last season, however.
The worry for anyone facing Chelsea, though, is Eden Hazard. Chelsea’s best form so often combines with the Belgian playing at the top of his game – which is no coincidence. His jinking runs and complete freedom in the 3-5-2 have troubled every opponent since he got to full fitness. West Ham are in trouble if they allow him the same freedom Newcastle did last weekend, but even Atletico Madrid could not nullify Hazard. He’s at 17/4 to open the scoring.
The draw with Atleti will have had little impact on this Chelsea side. They were very unfortunate not to win, and will be pleased to forgot about midweek European action for a couple of months.
Chelsea should be easier to stop than City. West Ham were well organised last Sunday, and the lack of senior options from the bench is what eventually cost them. Moyes will not set his side up to give us a thrilling affair at the controversial London Stadium, but the Irons could well frustrate the Blues.
For anyone willing a West Ham upset, the main optimism dampener is still Hazard. I do not really know how you can stop him without risking countless yellow cards - we've got plenty of options in our Premier League card markets.
The upside is that City have more options than Chelsea in the final third. Limit Hazard and Fabregas’ time on the ball, and Chelsea can quickly look blunt. Crowding the midfield may work for the Hammers, but they have to maintain an attacking threat – solely through Michail Antonio – to avoid Chelsea’s centre-backs occupying their half.
Antonio will find space in transition, however, and will have the beating of Chelsea’s defence. If the hosts are to snatch a goal, I expect the versatile forward to be involved. His 19/5 price to score looks good.
As we saw at the Etihad last Sunday, this match will resemble a training ground ‘attack versus defence’ exercise. I always enjoyed them at football training, but it doesn’t exactly make for a great televised match.
It should be a relatively easy win for Chelsea. Defensively there are issues, and fatigue is a concern after such a frenetic match on Tuesday night, but I think they will have enough to get past this West Ham side.
TIP: Chelsea to win 2-0 @ 23/4
*Odds subject to change - correct at time of writing*