Two struggling Premier League giants will face off at Stamford Bridge when Chelsea host West Ham United in a London derby of seeking relevance.
Chelsea finished the summer transfer window as the leader in terms of spending, but the question is, does this squad look a quarter of a billion better than it was at the end of last season? The results certainly do not point towards any drastic changes in fortunes, with the Blues languishing in the 10th place after five games.
A solid start to their season saw them beat Everton and draw at home against London rivals Tottenham. However, the last three games have been detrimental to their fortunes, as Leeds United and Southampton got the better of Thomas Tuchel’s men.
In between that, they huffed and puffed to secure three points against an otherwise hapless Leicester City side, who remain at the bottom of the Premier League table. Tuchel needs to get results on board to justify what has been spent in the market. Chelsea’s next opponent will be West Ham United, who will, by no means, will be an easy pass.
The Hammers, like Chelsea, have not progressed on the table after a disastrous start to their season. However, after the last two games, David Moyes will feel momentum is on their side after a much-needed victory over Aston Villa and a vital draw against Tottenham in midweek.
Moyes will rue his luck with the midweek result, as there were chances late in the game to win the clash at the death. However, the West Ham squad needs to feel a sense of togetherness, especially with the many new signings coming into the team.
The trip to Stamford Bridge is a daunting task for any squad. But going by Chelsea’s current, Moyes will be hopeful of getting something out of this clash. This will be a game to watch out for, considering the struggles of the two London giants, hoping to get back into relevance once more.
Team News & Tactics
Watch Thomas Tuchel face the media ahead of West Ham! https://t.co/QQIapbywdO
— Chelsea FC (@ChelseaFC) September 2, 2022
Thomas Tuchel will have been happy with the overall business conducted by Chelsea and will have one new name available for the West Ham United clash. While Marc Cucurella, Raheem Sterling, and Kalidou Koulibaly have been integrated into the squad, the other three arrivals are yet to see action.
Tuchel will have Wesley Fofana available for selection at the weekend, but Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Denis Zakaria are unavailable. The only other absentee is N’Golo Kante, while Reece James, Trevoh Chalobah, and Mateo Kovacic are available to feature. Conor Gallagher is also back following his suspension.
With Fofana at his disposal, Tuchel is expected to return with a back three, with the former Leicester City defender set to feature on the right side of the central defensive unit. Thiago Silva and Koulibaly will be the other members in the backline, while Cucurella and James are expected to play as wing-backs.
Gallagher could be on the bench, with Kovacic likely to start in midfield alongside Jorginho. Tuchel will go for a front three of Mason Mount on the right, Sterling on the left, and Kai Havertz leading the line for the Blues against West Ham.
Probable Lineup (3-4-3): Mendy; Fofana, Silva, Koulibaly; James, Kovacic, Jorginho, Cucurella; Mount, Havertz, Sterling
West Ham United
Like Chelsea, West Ham United had a tremendous transfer window, as David Moyes got players that improved squad quality and depth and gave him ideas for tactical shifts. For instance, with Thilo Kehrer and Emerson Palmieri at his disposal, the West Ham boss can play a back three or a back four, depending on the game, something they struggled with last season.
"Ben Johnson is not available. We're still waiting to see how Gianluca and Aaron Cresswell are."
— West Ham United (@WestHam) September 2, 2022
In terms of injuries, Ben Johnson is unavailable, with the youngster joining Nayef Aguerd and Craig Dawson on the sidelines. Vladimir Coufal and Emerson will likely play as the wing-backs with a back three of Kehrer, Kurt Zouma, and Aaron Cresswell sitting ahead of Lukasz Fabianski.
With such a system, Moyes could afford a start for new arrival Lucas Paqueta on the right side of midfield, with Declan Rice playing the anchor role and Tomas Soucek on the left-hand side. Such a tactical shift will force the likes of Pablo Fornals, Said Benrahma, and Manuel Lanzini to stick with bench roles at Stamford Bridge.
With Gianluca Scamacca still reeling from an illness, the Italian international is expected to feature in the squad but not from the start. Hence, Michail Antonio could be in line to form a strike partnership featuring Jarrod Bowen.
Probable Lineup (3-5-2): Fabianski; Kehrer, Zouma, Cresswell; Coufal, Paqueta, Rice, Soucek, Emerson; Bowen, Antonio
- Chelsea are undefeated in 16 of their last 17 home matches against West Ham United in all competitions.
- Chelsea are undefeated in their last six home matches in the Premier League.
- Chelsea have scored at least two goals in their last three home matches in the Premier League.
- West Ham have won three of their last six meetings with Chelsea.
- Raheem Sterling has 14 goal contributions (eight goals and six assists) against West Ham, more than he has against any other opponent. He has scored three goals in his last two matches versus the club.
Player to Watch
— Chelsea FC (@ChelseaFC) August 31, 2022
The entire focus in a game right after a transfer window will be on new signings, and Chelsea are about to show off their latest high-profile purchase. Fofana, a big-money arrival from Leicester City, will likely start against West Ham United. And since this has been a long-drawn saga to acquire the Frenchman, the spotlight and the pressure will be on his shoulders.
The signing seems very important from Chelsea’s perspective; they desperately need a presence like Fofana in their defence, mainly when the backline has been leaky in recent games. Then comes the issue of the enormous price tag, as it may weigh down heavily on a young player like the Frenchman.
Chelsea 1-1 West Ham United
Chelsea and West Ham United will not be happy with their positions in the table, and the pressure will be on the teams to prove the doubters wrong. The Blues, in particular, will be under tremendous scrutiny to improve results following a significant outlay on new players.
However, this game is poised for a draw, going by their recent form, with both teams showing pragmatism in their attacking displays. The latter is subject to immediate change, but considering how they have played, there is no other possible outcome than a stalemate.