London derbies don’t get any bigger than this! No West Ham-Chelsea tussle has ever been as pivotal as this. Locked on 55 points apiece after 32 games, the Hammers and the Blues have 90 minutes to down a rival, take three points and steal a march in the race for the final spot in the UEFA Champions League next season. After a week of unprecedented turmoil in the football world, the big games come thick and fast as the run in to the end of the season gathers momentum. The writers at The Chelsea Social give their thoughts and offer some predictions for West Ham vs Chelsea.
West Ham vs Chelsea – Introduction
Who would ever have thought David Moyes would have led West Ham to where they are? An incredible manager for Everton for eleven years, Moyes enjoyed a less than ideal time since he left the blue half of Merseyside. Nevertheless, this season has proven to be a redemption for the Scot as he has proven his coaching pedigree.
Out went the expensive recruits like Marko Arnautovic, Sebastian Haller, and Felipe Anderson. In came players like Jarrod Bowen, Tomas Soucek and the irrepressible Jesse Lingard who is playing the football of his life. It is scarcely believable that the return leg of this match earlier in the season ended 3-0 to Chelsea. Granted the Blues were characteristically different during that game, they nonetheless spent a large part of the game nursing a 1-0 lead only to add two further goals late on. One thing is certain: this game will be a far cry from that.
For West Ham, this is arguably one of if not the biggest game in their Premier League history, save for crucial last-ditch escapes from relegation, as they stand on the precipice of Champions League football for the first time ever. For Chelsea, this game is imperative if the Blues have any hope of securing top level European football for a third season running.
It is West Ham vs Chelsea, and let’s take a look at what our team at The Chelsea Social think how it will turn out.
Dan Hill (@idanknow05)
Chelsea have become a very strange animal to me in the past few seasons. I rarely get nervous for the bigger games against so-called ‘Big Six’ teams as I know the playing staff will be highly motivated. However, when we play ‘lesser’ teams like Southampton, West Brom or Brighton, all motivation, impetus, and enthusiasm seems to drain from the legs and minds of the players. And this is exactly what I fear against West Ham.
As much as Real Madrid next week is a big game for Chelsea Football Club, I think this West Ham game is bigger. Why? For West Ham, this game is everything. Win and they deal a near fatal blow to a big top four rival. Win and West Ham take a giant leap towards qualifying for the UEFA Champions League for the first time ever. This is sugar, spice and everything nice for the Hammers.
For Chelsea? I don’t get the same feeling. It is not just another game, but I very much doubt that Chelsea will be as motivated to win this as West Ham will be. And yet, they absolutely need to win this. The context of the midweek game against Brighton means that the Blues can be excused for scraping a 0-0 draw. However, in Chelsea’s last four games against Leeds, West Brom, Crystal Palace and Brighton, they earnt five points. For a team challenging near the higher end of the league, this isn’t good enough. And it also means that this game against West Ham has more pressure on it than it should have.
A misfiring front three also gives me little confidence. Without being too pessimistic, the Chelsea defense has been truly excellent which should give the rest of the team a lot of confidence. However, with the form of Jesse Lingard, the fact West Ham have been excellent this season and that the Blues attack doesn’t appear to have the confidence, wherewithal or clinical nature to take advantage of a clearly vulnerable Hammers’ defense, I can see the East Londoners winning here.
Final Score: West Ham 2 – 0 Chelsea
Is this a must win game for us against West Ham this weekend? You could say that.
Despite drawing against Brighton on Tuesday night, amid all the news regarding the European Super League, that point we picked up was enough to put us into the top four, only on goal difference above West Ham and a point behind 3rd placed Leicester. Now, with Leicester beating West Brom on Thursday night, the Foxes increased the gap ahead of us to four points.
A win against the Hammers for us would give us a really nice cushion of three points ahead of the Hammers and maybe even a little increase to our goal difference. Despite David Moyes’ side scoring three goals in each of their last four games, multiple times they have blown a convincing lead or won by the skin of their teeth. In their last game they lost 3-2 to struggling Newcastle, so it’s clear whenever they concede they look shaky.
Thomas Tuchel has confirmed that Edouard Mendy will return in goal, after Kepa showed good form in his little run he was given but Mateo Kovacic remains out. Apart from that, there’s no other concerns I think we will win and it could be a convincing victory.
Final Score: West Ham 0 – 3 Chelsea
Travis Flock (@Crossroads_CFC)
Chelsea travel to take on the Irons in a match that has massive implications for the Top 4 race. In the reverse fixture this season, Chelsea breezed to a 3-0 win at Stamford Bridge. Hopefully the blues can repeat more of this success.
A key player to watch for West Ham is the resurgent Jesse Lingard. His form has been absolutely electric since joining the Hammers. His fitness may be a question, however. West Ham have also shown a leakiness in defense lately and routinely have conceded 2 or more goals recently. This will be a key focus for the Blues to exploit.
I predict that the Blues will start Mendy in goal, with Azpilicueta, Christensen, and Rudiger starting as the 3 center backs. I predict that Chilwell will start along with James at wingbacks, and by default Jorginho and Kante will start at CM. I expect the front 3 to be Mount, Werner, and Havertz.
Final Score: West Ham 1-3 Chelsea
Matt North (@MattNorth_)
The matches are starting to come thick and fast for Thomas Tuchel’s Blues and there’s another huge match coming up in the league this weekend in the race for the top four. Chelsea head to the London Stadium to take in David Moyes and West Ham, who have no doubt exceeded expectations this season, sitting level on points with us in 5th place.
With fellow top four rivals Leicester extend their advantage in 3rd to four points, picking up a victory against the Hammers would leave us in an excellent position for finishing in a Champions League place. Tuchel’s men head into this game off the back of a disappointing 0-0 draw at home to Brighton but the result on that day wasn’t the main talk point.
The proposal of a potential European Super League sparked protests outside Stamford Bridge where the Blues soon announced they’d be pulling out of the plans. With the news now firmly behind, the Blues can now fully concentrate on what is a crucial match against our London rivals. Chelsea won the reverse fixture against West Ham 3-0 in December, back when Frank Lampard was in charge and we’ll certainly be hoping for a similar result this time round. However, this match will provide a much tougher test with the Hammers in excellent form and with Jesse Lingard performing phenomenally well since joining the side on loan in January.
We would be considered as the favourites in this match to come away with the three points but in recent visits to the London Stadium, we have only won once from four visits with last season’s game of course being one to forget, losing 3-2. I do expect West Ham to be up to the task and will of course do the best they can to win. However, I think we can have enough to pull through and get a big victory to not only boost our Champions League hopes but give us confidence heading into Tuesday’s UCL semi-final against Real Madrid.
Final Score: West Ham 0-1 Chelsea
Ross-John (RJ) Bonaccorsi (@RJ_Goodthings)
It’s West Ham vs Chelsea and what a clash that awaits us! I gave my detailed thoughts in a pre-match preview but in summary I see this as a genuine six pointer. A win propels us three points above our opponents and London rivals, but equally importantly, it gives us some breathing space against a rampant chasing pack in Liverpool, Tottenham and Everton. A loss on the other hand, well, then it’s starting to become a big of a precarious situation with our hopes of securing the all-important UCL qualification becoming more and more likely needing to be acheived by actually winning the big dance this season.
Thomas Tuchel in his pre-match press conference praised West Ham for their physicality and their strong ability to hurt opponents on the break and noted that Chelsea needed to do the following in order to secure the win: 1) limit the amount of critical ball losses, 2) be more energetic when losing possession to prevent the quick counters, and 3) keeping set pieces to a minimum given West Ham’s strength in this department. For Blues fans, it was these three things that really punished us during the same fixture last season which really left a sour taste for Chelsea fans and myself. That said, those days seem long ago and the positive heading into this match is that Tuchel’s men seem to be a more cohesive, organised and resilient unit and have shown on numerous occasions in recent times that when it comes to the ‘big’ clashes, the Blues have been turning up for each other and us fans more often than not.
Before I give my thoughts on how I believe Chelsea will line up, I want to give a shout out to West Ham as they have snuck under the radar, played a good brand of football and have justifiably placed themselves in the race for a top four spot. David Moyes has been incredible and getting his squad to perform to their potential with the likes of Soucek, Cresswell, Coufal, Bowen, Rice and the player of the moment – Jesse aka Lingardinho, playing superbly. This will be a huge test for Chelsea and a win here would provide a massive boost for the remainder of our campaign.
Pivoting to the Blues, and from a player selection perspective, it is very difficult to envisage how Thomas will line us up given both the continued unavailability of Mateo Kovacic (apparently might be back for Fulham), and, the fatigue factor as we truly enter the business end of the season with a clash of the titans against super villain, I mean super club Real Madrid in a few days time in the Champions League semi-final.
However, as Tuchel noted in the press conference, it’s about treating each game as the most important one and therefore I think he’ll line up as follows: Mendy, Azpilicueta, Christensen (Silva would be a risk ahead of Madrid), Rudiger, Chilwell, Hudson-Odoi, Jorginho, Kante, Pulisic, Havertz, Mount. I do believe we’ll see Hudson-Odoi shift to the LW for Pulisic which allows James to come on as RWB and perhaps we’ll see Gilmour ease the pressure from Kante or Jorginho, and possibly Ziyech for Mount – depending on the ebb and flow of the game.
Either way, the West Ham vs Chelsea game is my no.1 priority and with the ESL debacle seemingly behind us, we can now focus on this blockbuster clash, which make no mistake, is a must win in my humble opinion. I trust us to get the job done. Here’s hoping!
Final Score: West Ham 1-2 Chelsea
Written by Luka, Travis, Matt, RJ and Dan
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