Chelsea will be hoping to extend their advantage at the top of the Premier League table to four points, when they travel to fourth in the league West Ham, this morning.
Thomas Tuchel’s Chelsea go into the derby just three days after a scrappy 2-1 win at Watford on Wednesday, while West Ham were held to a frustrating 1-1 draw against Brighton on the same day.
Ahead of the game, we look at three players to look out for who we think will be vital ahead of the clash.
Reece James back and fit for selection against West Ham
One of the best players in the league so far this season and arguably Chelsea’s Player of the Season so far, the Englishman is back in training and ready for selection.
In his press conference, Thomas Tuchel confirmed he is ready after he picked up a minor injury in the clash against Manchester United last Sunday.
It is without doubt that the fullback will be vital against West Ham. The 21-year-old will certainly be expected to make it a tough afternoon for full-back Aaron Cresswell.
The lack of creativity down the flanks was clearly noticeable against Watford. James provides that attacking outlet that Cesar Azpilicueta maybe doesn’t have; quality on crosses, clinical finishing and ability to create chances out of nothing.
Jorginho key to midfield control
It was quite easy to notice how poor the Blues midfield was against Watford midweek and a lot of that was down to Jorginho simply not being on the pitch.
The Italians ability to drop deep in defence, keep ball possession in key areas and dictate tempo is something that we clearly missed. The midfield was non-existent against Watford.
Saul and Ruben Loftus-Cheek struggled to complement each other; not purely the fault of the duo, though it must be said. Both of them are not natural defensive midfielders which was why we saw a lot of space left in midfield which Watford tried to exploit.
Jorginho coming back is huge and it will be an interesting battle up against West Ham’s midfield pivot of Declan Rice and Tomas Soucek. The Italian will be expected to be at the heart of passing distribution assuming Chelsea dominate possession if West Ham decide to play a low block and sit back.
Mason Mount to continue midweek form?
Effective. Quality. Tireless. Ranked 19th in the BallonD’or rankings, the 22 year-old produced against Watford, picking up a goal and assist. With four goals and three assists in the league so far this season, his work rate and determination will be very much needed against a West Ham side that will be looking to limit Mounts impact on and off the ball.
His impact can simply not be underestimated. He consistently puts in good performances every week with his runs off the ball and his ability to pick out runners off the ball. But he will face a stern test against a West Ham side that will look to drop off into a lower defensive line out of possession.
Okay, so we’ve added in a fourth player for this one, it’s only fair after the time that Kurt Zouma spent at Chelsea. The former cult hero will reunite with his ex-club and former teammates. The club where he spent seven years and won two Premier League titles, a Champions League, League Cup and UEFA Super Cup.
The Frenchman was highly valued by legend and former manager, Frank Lampard, where he made 28 appearances in 19/20 and 24 in 20/21.
However, it was quite apparent Tuchel did not value Zouma as highly as he does Christensen, Rudiger and Azpilicueta. Mainly because his ball-playing abilities in playing out of the back did not fit Tuchel’s needs in skillset for a possession-based system.
Zouma made his switch from Chelsea to West Ham for £31m shortly after winning the UEFA Super Cup, where he has since shined playing in a system mainly reliant on counter-attacks.
He had a brilliant game against Liverpool in early November, where he scored from a set piece, made five recoveries. Zouma will certainly not need any motivation of coming up against his former club when Chelsea make the trip to West Ham ahead on Saturday lunchtime.
West Ham have undoubtedly improved defensively since Zouma’s summer switch from Chelsea, losing just four of 21 games in all competitions to go into the weekend challenging the top four in the Premier League and through to the UEFA Europa League round of 16 and EFL Cup fifth round.
Written by Vikram Jajuha (@CFCVik)
Edited by Tom Coley (@tomcoley49)
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