Jarrod Bowen’s second-half opener wasn’t enough to inspire West Ham to a winning start to life without Declan Rice, as Bournemouth held them to a dramatic 1-1 draw last weekend.
Following a title-winning goal in last season’s Europa Conference League final, the 26-year-old showcased his sublime finishing touch at the Vitality Stadium, proving our West Ham season preview correct for singling him out as a star player.
Bowen will have to hug the spotlight on Sunday if David Moyes’ troops are to avoid another two-game winless Premier League start, which kept them firmly in the lower reaches throughout the previous campaign.
After a dreadful 2022/23 season, where they had to settle for the club’s joint-worst 12th-place league finish since 1992/93, Chelsea are longer in a forgiving mood under Mauricio Pochettino.
They produced a spirited performance on the Argentine’s touchline debut to overcome an early deficit in an evenly-contested 1-1 draw against Liverpool at Stamford Bridge on the opening weekend.
However, the road to recovery is still long, with the Blues taking this trip having registered just one win in their last 13 league outings.
While it’s possible the recent arrivals of Moises Caicedo and Romeo Lavia could lift the quality within the squad, it’s hard to imagine our Chelsea season predictions firing off the mark.
West Ham lag being Chelsea in the all-time H2H record (W43, D23, L54), but moving to the London Stadium has gone a long way in balancing the overall stakes.
Moyes’ side have only lost twice in eight matches against the Blues at the London Stadium, all competitions included (W4, D2), though their most recent encounter here yielded a 1-1 draw.
But despite facing Chelsea on more occasions than any other side, the former Manchester United boss has encountered little luck in 46 managerial clashes against the Blues (W7, D13, L26).
He looks well-positioned to defy that record here, having guided West Ham to back-to-back home league wins at the back end of last season, including a 1-0 triumph over Man United.
Chelsea’s travel sickness could help the Hammers come out on top of this all-London match-up, with the Blues keeping just one clean sheet on their last 13 Premier League trips (W2, D3, L8).
The Blues’ last three away league defeats have seen them concede within the opening 20 minutes, highlighting the significance of a fast start. Pochettino should have spotted a flaw in the system by now.
He holds a barely positive managerial record against West Ham (W6, D4, L5), but after losing his most recent showdown against the Irons, the Argentine cannot take anything for granted.
Neither can Chelsea, who have scored one goal or fewer on four of their last six Premier League visits to the London Stadium.
It’s also impossible to overlook the Blues’ woeful return of five defeats from their last six competitive away games (W1).
West Ham head into proceedings unscratched, with Rice’s successor James Ward-Prowse ready to make his Hammers debut after leaving Southampton earlier this week.
Edson Alvarez, who failed to make the matchday squad against Bournemouth, will likely start on Sunday.
Chelsea are still without Trevoh Chalobah and Wesley Fofana, but Christopher Nkunku’s long-term knee injury makes Pochettino lose sleep at night.
Benoit Badiashile’s availability is in doubt, while new captain Reece James could surrender his place on the right to Malo Gusto after picking up a hamstring problem against Liverpool.
West Ham United potential starting line-up:
(4-2-3-1): Alphonse Areola; Vladimir Coufal, Kurt Zouma, Nayef Aguerd, Emerson; Alvarez, James Ward-Prowse; Jarrod Bowen, Lucas Paqueta, Said Benrahma; Michail Antonio.
Chelsea potential starting line-up:
(3-4-2-1): Robert Sanchez; Axel Disasi, Thiago Silva, Levi Colwill; Malo Gusto, Enzo Fernandez, Moises Caicedo, Ben Chilwell; Mykhailo Mudryk, Raheem Sterling; Nicolas Jackson.
We Say: West Ham United 1-1 Chelsea
It may take some time before both teams’ new-look midfield line-ups find the necessary connection, so we expect a lack of chemistry to take its toll this weekend.
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