Chelsea face another London derby at Stamford Bridge on Sunday when West Ham make the short journey in the Premier League (2pm kick-off, UK time).
Thomas Tuchel’s side will be seeking an immediate response following back-to-back capital capitulations to Brentford and Arsenal at the Bridge, conceding eight goals to their London rivals in that time, but they take on a West Ham team currently in the midst of a defensive injury crisis and with one eye on Europe.
David Moyes travels with his side with only one fit centre-back in Craig Dawson, so the Hammers can expect a reshuffle at the back. But despite their worrying casualty list and the prospect of Frankfurt next week, they will want to keep their chances of a top-six finish alive, meaning a result here is crucial.
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Where to watch Chelsea vs West Ham on TV:
- UK: Sky Sports Main Event & Sky Sports Premier League
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Chelsea vs West Ham betting tips from Squawka Bet
- Declan Rice over 3 tackles @7/4 with William Hill
- Timo Werner and Kai Havertz to score @6/1 with Hollywoodbets
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Chelsea team news
Mateo Kovacic, Callum Hudson-Odoi and Ben Chilwell remain out of action indefinitely for the Blues, while Antonio Rudiger looks set to miss out once again here with a groin issue, as confirmed by Tuchel. “Not good, I don’t think he will play against West Ham,” he said in his pre-match press conference. Andreas Christensen came off against Arsenal at half-time following his blunder in the first half, and although many thought the decision was tactical, Tuchel confirmed after the match that it was due to injury. The Danish defender, though, is expected to make a full recovery to feature this weekend.
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West Ham team news
West Ham have just three injuries to their squad. The problem is, all three are centre-backs in Kurt Zouma, Issa Diop and Angelo Ogbonna. The former came off with an ankle issue in a recent meeting with Brentford, while the latter is a longer-term absentee after required knee surgery last year, but Diop has now joined the duo on the treatment tables after sustaining suspected ankle ligament damage in the weekend’s draw with Burnley.
That now means Moyes faces a head-scratching decision. There are some options available to him, but none are ideal. The first being to drop Declan Rice back, a scenario that is simply out of the question for many West Ham fans. Why weaken another position on the pitch? A fair argument, but necessity is often the mother of invention, and this is a scenario that could prove effective for Moyes.
When Rice was injured last season for six matches between April and May, Moyes experimented with Manuel Lanzini and Tomas Soucek in a midfield pivot against Burnley, securing a 2-1 win at Turf Moor with some very free-flowing, pleasing-on-the-eye football. That partnership is destined to fail against Chelsea, there simply isn’t enough defensive resilience, but the potential of a back-three with Rice could offer Lanzini and Soucek the requisite protection to maintain a high tempo.
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One centre-back in a back-three tends to surge forward when in possession, so that could fall on Rice, who would be given license to push into the midfield when on the ball, and tuck back when up against it. Alternatively, Moyes could turn to the academy, with 21-year-old Aji Alese highly regarded by many at the club and having already featured this season in the Europa League. It’s a tall order, but needs must and if Moyes wants a like-for-like, 6ft 4in Alese is his man.
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Then there’s the possibility of simply moving Ben Johnson across to partner Dawson. The right-back is more renowned for his defensive exploits than attacking, so he should have all the required attributes to deputise as a stop-gap. Also hailed for his versatility, slotting in on either flank, England U21 boss Lee Carsley recently suggested Johnson has the profile of a centre-back. “He’s got all the attributes of a full-back with his athleticism, but he’s also got the stature of a centre-back,” Carsley stated.
“He’s tall and aggressive. The fact he can play left side is a bonus. He’s been really impressive on and off the pitch, all the staff have taken a shine to him and you can see why David Moyes and West Ham are so keen on him.”
Premier League 2021/22 recent form:
- Chelsea: LWLWW
- West Ham: DLWLW
Scoreline prediction: Chelsea 3-1 West Ham
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