Saturday’s Premier League action gets underway with an all-London top-four six-pointer between fourth-placed West Ham United and pacesetters Chelsea.
Returning to the London Stadium, where they’ve blown hot and cold this season, is unlikely to spark the Hammers’ comeback following a noticeable dip in form.
David Moyes’ men have run out of steam since club football returned to action in mid-November, going winless in their last three Premier League matches (D1, L2).
With fifth-placed Arsenal breathing down their necks, West Ham cannot afford another slip-up here if they are to cling on to their sought-after fourth place.
However, that won’t be a simple task by any stretch of the imagination, as high-flying Chelsea show no signs of slowing down any time soon.
Thomas Tuchel’s side eked out a 2-1 midweek triumph at Watford, stretching their unbeaten run in the Premier League to eight games (W6, D2).
Since second-placed Manchester City are only one point adrift of them ahead of the kick-off, the Blues are aware a potential slump at the London Stadium could see them leapfrogged at the summit.
West Ham United vs Chelsea Head-to-Head
West Ham lost both last season’s Premier League meetings with Chelsea without scoring while conceding four goals in return and stare at the prospect of suffering three straight top-flight H2Hs defeats for the first time since April 2011.
But the Hammers can find some comfort in their recent home fortunes against bitter cross-city rivals, having registered three wins in their last six league H2Hs at home (D1, L2).
That’s a significant turnaround from West Ham’s paltry return of just three victories from their 14 Premier League home H2Hs beforehand (D3, L8).
West Ham Preview
West Ham have suffered two defeats in their last four Premier League London derbies (W1, D1), as many reverses as they had across their previous ten such fixtures (W4, D4).
Yet, the Irons’ most recent London derby brings back fond memories, as they outscored Tottenham Hotspur 1-0 at this venue in late October to place themselves in a position to win back-to-back such contests for the first time since January 2019.
West Ham have been regulars on the scoresheet this season, but a lack of ruthlessness in front of goal has seen them score precisely once in four of their last five Premier League home outings.
It will be up to Michail Antonio to help Moyes’ side find much-needed cutting edge, with the Jamaican forward playing his part in ten goals across his last ten appearances in the Premier League London derbies.
But after netting five times in his first five league outings this term, he has only scored once in his last eight in the competition, drawing a blank in five ahead of the kick-off.
Not many European sides are superior to Tuchel’s Chelsea when it comes to defending, with the Londoners conceding just six times in 14 Premier League matches this season.
All competitions included, the Blues have yet to concede more than once per game this season, a feat off the charts across Europe’s top-five leagues at the moment.
Chelsea have won each of their last seven Premier League London derbies away from home en route to setting an unprecedented milestone in the top four tiers of English football.
Topically, since arriving at the helm back in January, Tuchel has racked up eight wins in nine Premier League London derbies in charge (L1), returning a resounding +15 goal difference from that run.
Romelu Lukaku, who came back to Stamford Bridge this summer, could be the architect of Chelsea’s potential win here, as he faces his favourite Premier League opposition.
Against no side has the Belgian striker scored more Premier League goals than he has against West Ham (nine).
West Ham United vs Chelsea Predicted Line-ups
West Ham United (4-2-3-1): Lucas Fabianski; Ben Johnson, Craig Dawson, Kurt Zouma, Aaron Cresswell; Tomas Soucek, Declan Rice; Jarrod Bowen, Said Benrahma, Pablo Fornals; Michail Antonio.
Chelsea (3-4-3): Edouard Mendy; Andreas Christensen, Thiago Silva, Antonio Rudiger; Reece James, Ruben Loftus-Cheek, Jorginho, Marcos Alonso; Mason Mount, Romelu Lukaku, Kai Havertz.
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