ENGLAND: Premier League
Venue: Olympic Stadium (London)
West Ham United paid for not taking their chances against Brighton & Hove Albion on Wednesday night (1-1), and have now slipped seven points behind the Premier League’s (PL) top three. That midweek draw did snap a two-match losing run in the league though, and every point is vital as the battle for fourth looks set to rage all season.
Now facing leaders Chelsea, they at least haven’t lost a league game here since October (W2, D1), so the ‘Hammers’ should be happy about playing in familiar surroundings. Although they’ve a mixed record in home London derbies across the last 12 months (W2, D3, L2), they’ve scored first in six of their seven home PL matches this term (W3, D2, L2) so could spring a surprise to add to their recent defeat of Liverpool.
That said, Chelsea won both PL H2Hs last term ‘to nil’ and haven’t lost a competitive fixture since September (W9, D3 – outcomes at 90 minutes), although they weren’t at their best against Watford (W 2-1) in midweek. Nevertheless, they’ve scored in both halves in three of their last four matches, and have done likewise in three of the last five H2Hs too.
This rivalry dates back to 1923 when these two sides contested a 0-0 draw, and recent H2Hs hosted by West Ham have been similarly tight. None of the last eight of Chelsea’s visits produced a winner by more than a one-goal margin (Chelsea: W3, D1, L4) and by triumphing here last term, the ‘Blues’ did so for the first time since March 2017, so they’ll take nothing for granted.
Players to watch: Tomáš Souček scoring is a good omen for West Ham as they haven’t lost any of his last nine goalscoring appearances (W6, D3). Meanwhile, all three of fit-again Romelu Lukaku’s goalscoring outings for Chelsea this term saw him net game opening goals.
- West Ham’s form in last 5 matches: DLWLW.
- Chelsea’s form in last 5 matches: WDWWD.
PREDICTION: Away and Over 1.5