Like last weekend, Chelsea are first in action from all the top six contenders (are we still counting Spurs?) as the Blues take on the Hammers at the Olympic Stadium just past noon. These start times often make for sleepy atmospheres and sluggish play, but given the rivalry between the teams — not to mention the two teams’ respective league positions — that may not be as evident today as normal.
Having gone eight games without a win (three draws), West Ham are now firmly embroiled in the relegation battle. Chelsea meanwhile are hoping to keep pace with the two Manchesters, at least one of whom is guaranteed to drop points on Sunday in the big derby between United and City. Three points are also a must for Chelsea to keep clear of the rest of the top four chasing pack.
Must win. As always.
Date / Time: Saturday, December 9, 2017, 12:30 GMT; 7:30am EST: 6pm IST
Venue: London Stadium, Stratford, London
Referee: Anthony Taylor — the man in charge of two of our biggest games this season already (Spurs away, United home) is back for the third time.
Forecast: Clear and dry and freezing cold
On TV: Sky Sports Premier League (UK); NBCSN (USA); Star Sports Select HD1 (India); elsewhere
Streaming online: Sky Go (UK); NBC Sports Live Extra (USA); Hotstar (India)
West Ham United team news: West Ham lead the league in goals conceded, but they managed to hold Manchester City to just two last weekend and will undoubtedly make it tough for Chelsea to score as well. But they also lead the league in number of injuries and will be missing key defensive starters in Winston Reid and James Collins, while Jose Fonte is out for at least another month. Joining them on sidelines are Sam Byram, Cheikhou Kouyate, and Andy Carroll, while there are fitness doubts over Javier “Chelsea-killer” Hernandez and club captain Mark Noble as well. That doesn’t leave too many able bodies, but Manuel Lanzini does have a touch of magic at times and Michail Antonio was on Chelsea shortlists of yore.
View from the enemy: Brace The Hammer
Chelsea team news: In start contrast to the Hammers, the Blues are riding an eight-match unbeaten streak in all competitions (six wins) and have dropped just two points in the league since the shock defeat by Crystal Palace two months ago. And that’s despite the busy fixture list that continues to loom over every rotational decision or non-decision that Conte makes. His job will be a bit tougher (or, in a way, easier) with the absences of David Luiz (knee) and Danny Drinkwater (illness), while there are fresh doubts over Álvaro Morata, who apparently tweaked something in training on Friday. A quarter of first-team players, Michy Batshuayi, Charly Musonda Jr, Kenedy, and Ethan Ampadu all played 90 minutes on Wednesday for Chelsea’s U23 team, which could limit their involvement today.
Previously: Chelsea recorded a pair of 2-1 wins over West Ham last season (plus a 2-1 loss in the League Cup).