Chelsea began each of the last two matchdays with a chance to at least temporarily go top of the Premier League. Two losses later, we’re sitting in eight, and just hoping to stay in the thick of the massive quagmire for the top four..
That’s the sort of league it is this year, with no team other than Liverpool recently emerging as a bone fide contenders. Titles aren’t won at Christmas of course, but they can be lost.
Adding to the must win feeling for today is the rivalry between the teams, the shared history among some of the players, not to mention Lampard’s personal history with the Hammers.
Date / Time: Monday, December 21, 2020, 20.00 GMT; 3pm EST; 1:30am IST (next day)
Venue: Stamford Bridge, SW6
Referee: Chris Kavanagh (on pitch); David Coote (VAR)
Forecast: Cool, possibly with a drizzle or two
On TV: Sky Sports Main Event (UK); NBCSN, Universo (USA); Star Sports Select HD1 (India); SuperSport Premier League, Canal+ Sport 3 (NGA); elsewhere
Streaming: Sky Go (UK); NBC Sports Live, Telemundo Deportes En Vivo (USA); Hotstar (India); DStv Now (NGA)
Chelsea team news: Christian Pulisic survived 90 minutes last week, which was just his second start in several months. So we do have one fit winger, as Hakim Ziyech and Callum Hudson-Odoi remain out, though the latter is closer and could be fit enough for the bench.
But there’s bad news on the injury front, too, with Reece James set to miss at least this game with a knee complaint. His scans came back promising, for what’s worth, though it sounds like the issue could be nagging him for the foreseeable future and it wouldn’t be surprising to see it result in surgery anyway.
After 17 unbeaten, we’re now winless in three and have lost back-to-back games. Lampard has yet to lose three in a row as Chelsea manager, and we haven’t gone four without winning one since 2017-18.
West Ham team news: West Ham are just one (1!) point behind Chelsea in the standings coming into the game, underlining the parity that we’re seeing in the league below the very, very top. The Hammers started the season with three losses in six, but have lost just twice in their next ten since.
The Moyes-siah has built his relative success on the strength of the defense — they have the fifth best defensive record in the league — and while no player has more than four goals, the likes of Jarrod Bowen, Sebastian Haller, Michail Antonio, and Manuel Lanzini are all more than capable of causing us problems (and some of them have very much done so in the past). Antonio and Bowen might have to miss out however with various ailments.
We should probably mention Declan Rice at this point, too, as the youngster gets another hotly anticipated matchup against his friends at his former club.
Previously: Chelsea lost this fixture last season, and then we also lost away to them as well. In fact, our only win in the last eight against the Hammers needed an absolute masterclass from Eden Hazard.