Chelsea will look to stay top of the table by collecting all three points and putting a few past Hammers goalkeeper Łukasz Fabianksi (who jumped off the sinking Swansea ship in the summer) in the late lunch kick-off at London Stadium against West Ham. Liverpool, who are the only other remaining team on maximum points after five games, play on Saturday and would move top with the win against Southampton. It’s still very early of course to be too concerned about table movements.
Still, some significance can be assigned to this match beyond just the rivalry and the relentless pursuit of points (both of which matter a great deal, to be sure). With a win, Sarri would become just the third coach in Premier League history to win his first six games (joining Ancelotti and Guardiola), and would guide the Blues to a feat achieved only three times before in our history: winning the first six league matches of a season. The record is nine, set in 2005-06.
Make it so.
Date / Time: Sunday, September 23, 2018, 13:30 BST; 8:30am EDT; 6pm IST
Venue: London Stadium, Stratford, London
Referee: Mike Dean — a name that should be familiar to any and all; this will be the 60th Premier League match he’ll ever referee for Chelsea, the most by far in club history (and the 67th in all competitions, probably also a record).
Forecast: If we’re lucky, the rain will have stopped by then.
On TV: Sky Sports Main Event (UK); NBCSN, Telemundo (USA); Star Sports Select HD2 (India); elsewhere
Streaming online: Sky Go (UK); NBC Sports Live, Telemundo Deportes En Vivo (USA); Hotstar (India)
West Ham team news: Constantly injured Andy Carroll and Jack Wilshere are injured. Winston Reid is still recovering from offseason knee surgery, Marko Arnautović may be carrying a knock, while Javier “Chicharito” Hernández is said to be ill. Though he could probably play half-dead against Chelsea and still find the back of the net — just as he’s done 9 times in 14 appearances against the Blues over the years.
After four straight losses to open the season, West Ham finally won a league match, away to Everton, 3-1. They progressed in the League Cup by the same scoreline as well, beating AFC Wimbledon in the second round. Those returns are hardly satisfactory given their massive investment (again) over the summer — Issa Diop, Andriy Yarmolenko, and Felipe Anderson cost a combined £75m alone — but they appear to be improving.
New manager Manuel Pellegrini knows this game won’t be easy and most don’t expect him to win, though the Hammers did take four points from six against the Blues last season.
View from the enemy: Brace The Hammer
Chelsea team news: Six wins in all competitions after Thursday’s 1-0 triumph over PAOK in Greece, which saw Eden Hazard and David Luiz rested and Mateo Kovačić stay behind with a minor injury. Emerson, Danny Drinkwater, Lucas Piazon, and Rob Green also did not travel. The only bad news from the win was the shoulder injury picked up by Pedro, which will surely rule him out from at least a game or two even though it was deemed “probably” not serious.
Chelsea’s usual general concerns remain despite the winning streak — consistent finishing and the odd defensive lapse remain a feature of the Sarrismo learning process. For a change of pace, Chelsea also feel behind Cardiff last weekend, but were able to return the favor with four unanswered, including Eden Hazard’s second career hat-trick for the club (which makes him the Premier League’s current goalscoring leader with five!). Long may that continue.
Previously: Since Chelsea managed to be terrible against West Ham last season in two tries, here are some better highlights from the season before that, as Conte’s Chelsea marched towards the title.