West Ham v Chelsea- Another tough test for home side

West Ham will be aiming for an encore of the gritty performance they delivered against league leaders Man City when they host Chelsea this weekend.

The Hammers were expected to be demolished by Pep Guardiola’s side at the Etihad, but instead led them at half time and came to within seven minutes of coming away with an unlikely point. City had dropped points against only one team in the league all season and West Ham came mighty close to becoming the second, before David Silva’s sublime late goal continued the home side’s winning run.

There were plenty of positives for West Ham, with young Declan Rice delivering an assured performance in defence as part of a three man makeshift back three along with Angelo Ogbonna and Aaron Cresswell. Italian defender Ogbonna also scored his first ever league goal for the Hammers against the Citizens.

Spaniard Adrian, given a start only because Joe Hart was ineligible to play against his parent club, produced a number of excellent saves to keep his side in the contest, and perhaps deserves another go under the sticks this weekend.

Adrian San Miguel

West Ham also missed star medio Cheikhou Kouyate in the second half, with plenty of gaps appearing in the centre of the park for City to exploit after the Senegalese international was forced to hobble off just before the break.

Chelsea go into this game on the back of a 1-1 draw in midweek against Atletico Madrid in the Champions League, a result that cost them top spot in their group. Roma’s superior head to head record saw them take top spot following their 1-0 win over Qarabag in the other group game.

This game is the first one in Round 16 (kicks off at 12.30 on Saturday) and Chelsea have the second best away record (W5, D1, L1) after Man City in the league. That would explain Antonio Conte’s side being 4/9 favourites, but if West Ham produce a repeat of their City performance, things could be tough for the visitors come this weekend. The Hammers have won two of their last three home games against the Blues.

Eden Hazard

Chelsea’s attack has been overtly reliant on Eden Hazard this season, and West Ham will be keen to neutralise him. The Belgian, nominated for Premier League Player of the Month, scored twice in their 3-1 win over Newcastle last weekend. Chelsea have also conceded only five goals away so far- West Ham, by comparison, have the worst defence in the league, and are second from bottom in the table going into this fixture.

Chelsea form

Chelsea 1-1 Atleti
Chelsea 3-1 Newcastle
Chelsea 1-0 Swansea
Liverpool 1-1 Chelsea
Qarabag 0-4 Chelsea
WBA 0-4 Chelsea

Ref for this one is Anthony Taylor, who was the man with the whistle when Chelsea edged Man Utd last month. Taylor’s last game that featured West Ham was their famous 1-0 win over Spurs last May, the result that effectively punctured the Lilywhites’ title hopes and handed the title to the Blues.

West Ham United v Chelsea FC on 9 December, 2017 (Saturday) at the London Stadium (12.30 Kick off)

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