After the drama of the transfer window and specifically Transfer Deadline Day, it’s time for the more mundane bits of the football season, you know, the football itself! For Chelsea, that means a visit from West Ham United on Saturday, for whom this is normally one of the biggest fixtures of the year. But it’s also a crucial match for the Blues after two horrendous defeats in our last three games. Deadline Day (and the window overall) brought in a lot of good vibes and excitement, but on the pitch, our play has been lackluster, to say the least. My assumption is that all the newest signings will be registered and available to play this weekend except for Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, who had been expected to miss a few weeks following the assault and facial injury he suffered during the armed robbery of his home in Barcelona. N’Golo Kanté and Ruben Loftus-Cheek are also out, both with a hamstring problem.
Conor Gallagher has served his suspension and should thus be available once again. And both Reece James and Trevoh Chalobah were spotted in training yesterday following illness and a knee knock, respectively, so hopefully they will be back as well. Boss Thomas Tuchel has confirmed that Ruben Loftus-Cheek and Trevoh Chalobah are back following injuries. Reece James has recovered from his illness, while Conor Gallagher returns from his suspension. West Ham’s record signing Lucas Paqueta could make his full debut after a substitute appearance in midweek. David Moyes will be without Ben Johnson, who has a hamstring problem. The Hammers manager faces a late decision on Aaron Cresswell, who has a groin issue, and Gianluca Scamacca, who is taking anti-biotics for a virus. Chelsea play host to West Ham United in Saturday’s London derby with the club sitting in 10th position in the Premier League standings.
While the Hammers make the short trip to Stamford Bridge in 14th spot, they will move level on points with their city rivals with a win. Chelsea have won only six of their last 16 Premier League home games, having won six of their previous eight. In this run they have dropped 13 points from leading positions, as many as they had in the preceding 44 home league fixtures. Only in the 2015-16 campaign have Chelsea lost as many as three of their first six top-flight matches. Raheem Sterling has 14 goal contributions (eight goals and six assists) against West Ham, more than he has against any other opponent. He has scored three goals in his last two matches versus the club. Those goals have come at four different Premier League venues (Anfield, Upton Park, Etihad Stadium and the London Stadium) so Sterling can become the fourth player to score against the Hammers at least five different grounds in the competition, emulating Andrew Cole, Gary Speed and James Beattie.
When transfer deals are not getting confirmed until after midnight on transfer deadline day, it is arguably an acknowledgement that things are not necessarily going swimmingly in terms of progression both on and off the pitch. That is true with regards to Chelsea, who have only collected seven points from a possible 15 in the top flight and were left to react quickly in the transfer market to secure the signature of Denis Zakaria from Juventus. However, more long-term planning went into the acquisition of Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, who is currently sidelined with a broken jaw, and Thomas Tuchel can have no complaints with the club’s efforts in the summer transfer window. Nevertheless, the German must now find a way to get Chelsea back on track, particularly after their poor showing in the 2-1 defeat at Southampton on Tuesday night.
Although Tuchel was correct in his assessment that Chelsea were disjointed and easy to beat, a quick solution needs to be found or the Blues will be out of the title race with barely a month gone in the season. West Ham United manager David Moyes David Moyes may have had similar concerns about keeping West Ham in the hunt for the top seven having witnessed his side lose three successive matches in the Premier League. However, collecting four points from games with Aston Villa and Tottenham Hotspur have put a different slant on things, the Hammers now having some momentum ahead of a second London derby in the space of three days. West Ham were terrific in the clash with Spurs, somehow failing to take advantage of the chances that they created in the second half, but it was a step in the right direction against their most illustrious rivals.
With Lucas Paqueta also through the door at the London Stadium for a club-record fee, everyone associated with West Ham will naturally be optimistic that the quality and belief is there when it comes to catapulting themselves into the top half of the table. Both teams have recorded three wins apiece from their last six matches between the clubs, but Chelsea have prevailed in the most recent two meetings at Stamford Bridge. Tuchel may be prepared to hand an immediate debut to Wesley Fofana with the former Leicester City man potentially slotting into a role on the right-hand side of a back three. With Zakaria and Aubameyang out of contention, Conor Gallagher should return to feature in midfield, while Armando Broja will hope to be provided with an opportunity in attack. Reece James, Trevoh Chalobah and Ruben Loftus-Cheek have all returned to training after illness, a knee issue and hamstring injury respectively.
Moyes must decide whether to go with a back three or four, but former Chelsea defender Emerson Palmieri is in line to return on the left-hand side in some capacity. With Paqueta likely to remain among the West Ham replacements, the rest of the team could stay the same with Ben Johnson, Craig Dawson and Nayef Aguerd all expected to stay sidelined. Gianluca Scamacca may return to the substitutes’ bench if he has fully recovered from the virus which kept him out of the Spurs game.
Chelsea possible starting lineup:
Mendy; Fofana, Silva, Koulibaly; Azpilicueta, Gallagher, Jorginho, Cucurella; Mount, Sterling, Broja
West Ham United possible starting lineup:
Fabianski; Coufal, Kehrer, Zouma, Palmieri; Rice, Soucek; Bowen, Benrahma, Fornals; Antonio