If someone at the start of the season would’ve suggested that the fate of our season would, in large part, come down to a six-pointer against West Ham United, surely the more likely scenario would’ve been that Chelsea were on the brink of disaster and a relegation fight rather than West Ham actually being good enough to push for a Champions League spot.
And yet, here we are, in the latter scenario.
The Hammers, who avoided relegation by a handful of points last season and have finished in the top half of the table just 7 times in their 24 prior seasons of Premier League football, are currently sat fifth, matching their best ever Premier League finish (in 1998-99), and have an outside shot at third, which would match their highest ever top flight finish (1985-86 of the old first division). And four of their last six games are against teams currently 14th or below.
As much as all games are a must-win at this juncture, this latest edition this cross-town rivalry is a must-must-win.
Date / Time: Saturday, April 24, 17.30 BST; 12:30pm EDT; 10pm IST
Venue: Olympic Stadium, Stratford, London
Referee: Chris Kavanagh (on pitch); Mike Dean (VAR)
Forecast: Spring has sprung
On TV: Sky Sports Main Event (UK); NBC, Universo (USA); Star Sports Select HD2 (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)
West Ham team news: David Moyes began his first full season back in charge of West Ham with back-to-back defeats and just two wins from the first seven games in the league, but since then, he’s engineered a steady rise up the Premier League table. Since the turn of the year, they’ve won 10 of 16, losing just 4 — only one of those losses was unexpected, last weekend to Newcastle United, who have proven their bogey team.
January loan signing Jesse “Messe” Lingard has proven a masterstroke, with the ever-young Manchester United 28-year-old scoring 9 goals and adding 4 assists in just 10 appearances, including goals in five straight games for which he was eligible. Normally, that would make him West Ham’s one-man offense, but they have actually been scoring in bunches and have 22 goals total in Lingard’s matches.
Their defense has been almost as leaky however, despite the excellent play of Czech duo Tomáš Souček and Vladimír Coufal, as well as Declan Rice of course. The former Chelsea youngster will however miss this game through injury. Joining him on the sidelines will be Michail Antonio and Aaron Cresswell, two players who have tended to cause us problems over the years. Arthur Masuaku is also out while fellow center back Craig Dawson is suspended after his sending off last weekend.
Chelsea team news: Mateo Kovačić remains out, and is likely to miss the first leg of the Champions League semifinal against Real Madrid on Tuesday as well. Everyone else is available for selection — even Tammy Abraham! — though Tuchel is unlikely to rotate and experiment as much as he did in the limp and lucky 0-0 draw against Brighton earlier this week.
Our run-in looks very tough but this is what we play for and this what we want. We control our own destiny right now — in three competitions in fact!
Chelsea fixture schedule— Mark Worrall (@gate17marco) April 14, 2021
Man City FA Cup semi
Brighton (PL h)
West Ham (PL a)
Real Madrid (CL a)
Fulham (PL h)
Real Madrid (CL h)
Man City (PL a)
Arsenal (PL h)
possible FA Cup Final
Leicester (PL h)
Aston Villa (PL a)
possible CL final
tough, but nice to be in the mix
Previously: Chelsea have a chance to do the double over the Hammers like Newcastle, but in order to do so, we have to win away for the first time since 2017. Earlier this season, Lampard’s Blues beat the Hammers, 3-0, thanks to an early Thiago Silva header and a late Tammy brace.