Premier League 17/18 Week 33: Chelsea vs West Ham United – Lineups, Preview and Prediction
The Premier League wraps up this weekend with a derby that can deliver some redemption for an under-performing London team
16:30 BST, Sunday 8th April, Stamford Bridge (London, England) Sky Sports
The Hammers take on the Blues in what is a third Premier League derby of the weekend. While it has a lot to live up to surpass the excitement levels provided in Manchester, it’s a game which both teams desperately need to win to restore some lost face.
Chelsea come into this match trailing the top four by 9 points following Tottenham’s win yesterday. Antonio Conte has been adamant he will still be at the helm for next season but needs to show promise that his team can deliver more than they’ve under-achieved in this.
With West Ham’s win last weekend lifting away some clouds that were hanging menacingly over the London Stadium, they head into this derby match still far from safe of relegation. David Moyes, too, is a manager with question marks shrouding his post-summer future and a win for either will go a long way towards adding gloss to their suffering reputations.
Last Time Out
Chelsea 1-3 Tottenham Hotspur (Premier League)
Chelsea’s home form was ripped up as their hopes of a top-four finish took a major blow. The game had got off to a respectable start when they resisted Tottenham’s early pressure and snatched a lead through the increasingly dependable figure of Álvaro Morata. The Spanish forward was again full of running for Chelsea and caused problems for the Spurs defence throughout the afternoon.
Tottenham’s domination of possession eventually told although the equalising goal from Christian Eriksen was a moment of magic on the stroke of half-time. Replying strongly after the interval, Marcos Alonso was denied by Hugo Lloris in what would have been a deserved goal to return their advantage. Instead, Tottenham remained on level terms and grew into the final stages of the game where Dele Alli scored twice in 5 minutes to leave Chelsea with a fifth defeat from their last 7 league games.
West Ham United 3-0 Southampton (Premier League)
The Hammers delivered a thrashing of the Saints to deliver a happy Easter to East London. West Ham came into this match with the unsavoury events of their previous home match and a threat of relegation providing a dangerous narrative lurking readily on the sidelines for any slip-ups by Moyes’ men. Instead, it proved to be an inspiration for a side who helped themselves to a feast of attacking football.
Marko Arnautovic was once more the catalyst for much of West Ham’s positivity this season, picking up two goals that saw them take a 3 goal lead into the break. That he did so against his former manager who had disrespected him during their former meeting made it even sweeter for the Austrian forward. With West Ham stepping back off the front foot during a more relaxed second half, they remained the superior side in the contest.
Conte will be without David Luiz (knee) Thibaut Courtois (hamstring) Ross Barkley (fitness) and Ethan Ampadu (ankle) once again, however, both Pedro (knock) and Davide Zappacosta (ankle) will require late fitness tests and could also miss out.
West Ham United Lineup
Winston Reid (knee) James Collins (hamstring) Sam Byram (ankle) Pedro Obiang (knee) Manuel Lanzini (knee) and Andy Carroll (ankle) all remain absent for Moyes and are joined by Michail Antonio (hamstring) who left the pitch in tears last weekend with only 8 minutes on the clock.
Key Battle: Eden Hazard (Chelsea) vs Marko Arnautovic (West Ham United)
Both teams have become over-reliant on their respective key creative player this season, however, they will once more be needed to provide an edge to their attacks. Hazard has been given plenty of freedom in Chelsea’s side this season, either in a floating position behind the main striker or as a focal point in attack for Conte’s side. The result has seen him being directly involved in 16 of Chelsea’s 53 goals (30%) and enhance his reputation even further despite Chelsea’s overall decline.
Last weekend was yet another masterclass by a forward who has thrived at West Ham since Moyes took over the manager’s chair in November. Arnautovic’s brace against Southampton followed a barren run of 3 games with no meaningful contribution. While he has only scored twice against Chelsea in 10 appearances, his goal last December stunned the Blues into a 1-0 defeat and West Ham fans will hope of a repeat performance from their season’s best player.
The unexpected passing of Ray Wilkins earlier this week will add a sombre undertone to proceedings at Stamford Bridge on Sunday afternoon. The popular former England and Chelsea midfielder was only 61 when he suffered a cardiac arrest at the end of March which he could not recover from.
Described by many as the perfect gentleman, it was at Chelsea where he launched his senior career, scoring 30 goals from only 179 appearances in the Blues midfield. Having taken temporary control of Chelsea from the dugout on three separate occasions between 2008 and 2010, he became well known to a new generation of English football fans.
As graceful off the pitch as he proved to be on it, Wilkins battled his own demons away from the field but should be remembered for the passion he had for both Chelsea and the game at large.
Who’s number one?
While Hart has recently returned to the starting lineup and played 1 more league game than Adrián (15 vs 16) this season, neither keeper has truly impressed in East London. They have 4 clean sheets each and although Hart has conceded 33 goals to Adrián’s 24, the summer transfer window is likely to throw up a lot of speculation linking goalkeepers to a move into the London stadium.
While this competition for a place in the team should push each player to higher standards, it’s failed to do this yet. There will be more changes in the starting spot yet with Hart being ineligible to face Manchester City in their upcoming fixture, however, both keepers want to win a starting berth on merit rather than default and they need to show more command of their box if they’re to do this.
Prediction: Chelsea 3-1 West Ham United
The Hammers have become something of a bogey side for Chelsea in recent years but this match could serve to re-address the balance back in favour of the Blues. Chelsea may have lost 5 of their last 7 games but West Ham’s away form has deserted them this year.