- Premier League
- EFL Championship
- Other Top Clubs
- Scout Reports
Chelsea had a complicated inception of the Premier League campaign but picked up momentum in recent weeks and are now closing the gap on second-placed Manchester United in the league tally.
The Blues have enjoyed a fruitful Champions League despite being drawn alongside the likes of Atletico Madrid and AS Roma and qualified for the knockouts ahead of their Stamford Bridge outing against Atletico Madrid. A draw in that game, however, placed them 2nd in their group behind Roma and the London giants might expect an enthralling round of 16 encounter against one of the European heavyweights.
Their weekend outing against West Ham United at Olympic Stadium is a crucial contest in Premier League’s context and the Hammers, despite struggling in the drop zone, showed signs of improvement on Sunday evening when their lion-hearted display almost earned them a point against high-flying Manchester City at Etihad.
West Ham failed to keep hold of their first-half lead but seemed to be rejuvenated under newly-appointed gaffer David Moyes. Their home outing against the Blues is not expected to be a stroll in the park for the visitors.
Chelsea do not have significant injury absentees except David Luiz, whose knee injury has ruled him out for the West Ham outing. Despite the availability of all other first-team regulars, fatigue might be a concern for the Blues boss as his boys are currently going through a hectic schedule.
Conte’s three-man back-line has brought in a revolution since his title glory in debut Premier League campaign and the Italian won’t be altering his defensive setup at all. However, he has experimented with his midfield and forward line and has experimented several formations in recent weeks. 3-4-3, 3-4-1-2, 3-4-2-1 and 3-5-1-1 have been the most exploited ones but the gaffer might opt to line up his side in a 3-5-1-1 formation on Saturday afternoon.
The Belgian has been one of Premier League’s finest custodians of the current era and is set to protect the Blues goal once again.
Azpilicueta has been exquisite on the right-hand side of Chelsea’s ‘back three’ and is certainly one of the best defenders in the league. He will have a massive influence on the game.
The youngster from Denmark has been outstanding in the middle of Chelsea’s three-man defence and is being preferred over bigger stars, following his sensational defensive display in recent times.
The skipper seems to be past his prime but is still earning a starting spot due to his experience, vision and game-reading ability.
The Nigerian had a few unproductive loan spells (including West Ham United) before reviving his career under Antonio Conte in a right wingback role. He was out injured for a few games but is now back and should start against his former side.
The Spaniard loves to orchestrate the game from midfield with his great vision, the range of passing and set-piece ability. His presence will add more quality, helping the Blues to hold possession, as well as build some moves from the middle of the park.
Premier League’s Player of the Year of 2016-17 campaign has continued his consistency in midfield and his forward runs, dribbling skills and ball-carrying traits make Chelsea the favourites to win the midfield battle.
The Englishman missed a few games with injury since completing his move from Leicester City but has started showing his ability lately and is reproducing the mastery from his Leicester days alongside Kante – the duo who helped the Foxes script a miraculous Premier League title triumph a couple of seasons back.
Alonso was rested against Rojiblancos in Chelsea’s midweek game but should return for this fixture against the Hammers. He will play a massive role in Chelsea’s attack, banking on his blistering pace, movements, cut-ins, crossing and shooting traits.
The Belgian is back in business and has shown stupendous form in recent weeks. He will be playing behind Morata, acting as a link between the midfield and the in-form Spaniard up front.
Morata is enjoying a great scoring run and the presence of Hazard is allowing him to be involved in the game even more. He is getting more opportunities to score goals and the Spaniard has not disappointed either.