Alex previews Chelsea’s upcoming fixture against West Ham at the London Stadium, which will kick-off at 8:15pm on Wednesday.
Despite an extremely disappointing first-half performance against Leicester City on Sunday there was only one thing that mattered. Thanks to a well taken Ross Barkley goal, Chelsea will indeed be heading to Wembley in July to face Manchester United in the FA Cup Semi-Final.
Despite the relatively poor performance compared to Thursday evening’s tactical masterclass against Pep Guardiola, it seems pretty likely that judging by some of his selections Frank Lampard had more than one eye on Wednesday night’s game against bitter rivals West Ham United.
In recent years, the Hammer” have become somewhat of a bogey side for Chelsea. This game presents the opportunity to make it 6 wins in a row for the Blues, and Frank Lampard will be expecting his team to capitalise on the opportunity.
What we can expect from Chelsea
The post-lockdown star in this Chelsea side has undoubtedly been Christian Pulisic. Despite starting on the bench, he helped turn round the game against Aston Villa and was a constant threat days later against Manchester City, where he was unlucky not to score more than just one goal. He continued to back up his performances on Sunday against Leicester, always looking dangerous when he picked up the ball and only a very strong hand from Kasper Schmeichel denied him a certain goal. Chelsea fans everywhere would’ve been concerned to see an ice pack being applied to his left calf upon being subbed off, and it is not currently known just how serious this injury will be – however, his directness will certainly be crucial against a West Ham side likely to sit deep and try to absorb pressure.
Jorginho has failed to start any matches since receiving a two-game ban for an accumulation of yellow cards against Liverpool in the FA Cup in March. This game against West Ham will set up perfectly for Jorginho at the base of the Chelsea midfield and it will be a damning indictment of the Italian’s place in Lampard’s plans if he fails to start again.
Last Time Out – Chelsea 0-1 West Ham
Frankly, the less said about Chelsea’s game against West Ham in November the better. On a cold and dark Saturday afternoon in West London, 42,000 people inside Stamford Bridge were left gobsmacked when despite having 66% possession and a total of 19 shots, Chelsea took nothing from the game. It is worth noting that this game did fall just three days after a hectic 2-2 draw in Valencia, so it’s fair to say that the Chelsea side wouldn’t exactly have been firing on all cylinders.
Aaron Cresswell’s goal proved to be the match-winner for West Ham, the left-back scoring a brilliant curling shot inside the area on his weaker right foot.
The hero of the day was unquestionably West Ham’s debutant Goalkeeper David Martin, who was subject to a bombardment on his goal from a desperate Chelsea side. At full time, he fell to the floor in tears. His father, Alvin Martin, made an incredible 598 appearances for West Ham between 1978 and 1996 so in many ways this was a fairy tale story.
Unless you’re a Chelsea fan of course…
West Ham’s visit to Stamford Bridge was surely the high point in what has otherwise been an extremely disappointing season. Despite boldly claiming winning is “what he does,” David Moyes’ results have largely suggested the opposite at this point in his managerial career – and his side have won just 21% of games since his second appointment at West Ham.
In their last outing, West Ham faced Tottenham Hotspur away and what could’ve been a promising performance was undone by an extremely unfortunate Tomáš Souček own goal. The game was finished off by Harry Kane in the 82nd minute, but on another night this could’ve been a whole different story for West Ham.
David Moyes side currently sit 17th in the Premier League table and a five point gap has formed between Brighton and Hove Albion in 15th and Watford in 16th. Despite some big spending in previous summers, this side is now at real risk of dropping down into the Championship. Their final seven games are a mixture of Top Four chasers and other relegation-threatened sides so they need to build momentum quickly. In a season where they would’ve been aiming to make a statement as the so-called “best of the rest,” these are worrying times indeed for the club.
One to watch
Despite being a part of the Chelsea Youth Academy for eight years, Declan Rice was released at the age of 14. A close friend of Mason Mount and English, it’s no surprise that the midfielder has been linked to Chelsea since Frank Lampard’s arrival last summer. Many doubt that he has the mobility to play in midfield in this Chelsea side and would rather see him moulded into a ball-playing centre back, where he has played previously.
He’s only 21 but seemingly has the maturity of a much older player, and he was a real stand out in the West Ham side that took on Tottenham Hotspur last Wednesday, which has unsurprisingly generated numerous rumours linking him with a return to his boyhood club.
His exemplary attitude suggests a move to a top club will be a matter of when rather than if. In many ways you could consider this game on Wednesday to be an audition of sorts for Rice. One thing is for sure: he will want to make a point against the side that once released him.
Make no mistake about it, this is not going to be an easy game for Chelsea.
With just 72 hours between the Leicester City game on Sunday afternoon and this West Ham game on Wednesday evening, you can certainly see why Frank Lampard opted for a huge amount of rotation in his FA Cup lineup. On the contrary, West Ham will have had an entire week to prepare for this game. Despite the loss to their greatest Premier League rivals, Tottenham, there were some positive sides for the team. West Ham need to start putting points on the board and they will be encouraged by their result earlier in the season against this Chelsea side.
They say the good teams can win even when things just aren’t going their way. On Sunday that was certainly true of this Chelsea team, and Frank Lampard will gain some confidence that his side was somehow able to snatch a 1-0 win, when they could’ve been two or three down at half time alone. Chelsea will need to be at their best in this game to get a result, but the overall bridge in form and quality should make the difference.
Chelsea will be looking to control this game and with some good finishing there is no reason a healthy 3-0 win isn’t attainable.
Midweek Premier League Fixtures (Kick-off at 6pm unless stated)
Tuesday 30th June
- Brighton vs Manchester United (8:15pm)
Wednesday 1st July
- Arsenal vs Norwich City
- Bournemouth vs Newcastle United
- Everton vs Leicester City
- West Ham United vs Chelsea (8:15pm)
Thursday 2nd July
- Sheffield United vs Tottenham
- Manchester City vs Liverpool (8:15pm)
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