Graham Potter has not tasted victory in seven straight away games with Chelsea, starting with that shocking 4-1 reversal against his old team, Brighton back in late October, with the Blues scoring just three goals during this run. But on Saturday, he returns to a stadium where he already triumphed this season.
Of course, as he emphasized in his press conference, circumstances and context are quite different than when he led Brighton to a 2-1 win at the London Stadium against West Ham in late August — and unfortunately that context is not a positive one, certainly not when it comes to results on the pitch. Last Friday’s 0-0 draw against Fulham was our ninth game without a win in our last eleven in all competitions.
But hey, every turnaround must start somewhere, so maybe ours starts here.
“[Our away record] is not a statistic we like, that is for sure. Going away from home in the Premier League is not straightforward and the problems we’ve been having in terms of injuries haven’t made it easy. But it’s something we’re trying to address. We have to start with West Ham; I’ve been there with Brighton and had a decent record.
“But it’s a different context, a London derby with no love lost between the two teams. It will be a good atmosphere to test ourselves in and to try to get the three points. [...] West Ham-Chelsea brings a different edge to it being a London derby and the relationship between the two clubs, the fans etc. It’s a totally different situation. But it was nice to win there and hopefully, we can do it again.”
-Graham Potter; source: Football.London
Date / Time: Saturday, February 11, 2023, 12.30 GMT; 7:30am EST; 6pm IST
Venue: Olympic Stadium, London, E20
Referee: Craig Pawson (on pitch); Neil Swarbrick (VAR) — been a while since we’ve seen ol’ Paw-dawg, since the very first game of the season in fact, when he awarded us a penalty for the game’s only goal.
Forecast: Cool and a bit breezy
On TV: BT Sport 1 (UK); USA Network, Universo (USA); Star Sports Select HD1 (India); SuperSport Premier League, Canal+ Sport 3 (NGA); elsewhere
Streaming: BT Sport Live (UK); NBC Sports Live, Telemundo Deportes En Vivo (USA); Hotstar (India); DStv Now (NGA)
West Ham United team news: After a decade of living the midtable life, with the occasional European spot-challenge — such as last season’s 7th place and the 6th the year before — West Ham have fallen on rather hard times this season, and find themselves just one place and one point above the relegation zone.
That said, they have as many points in their last four games as we do (5), which has eased a bit of pressure on David Moyes, though obviously not too much since their position is still as precarious as it gets. Moyes still knows how to set up a defense and their defensive record is indeed very good (only four teams have conceded less) while surprise January singing Danny Ings will be relied on to revitalize their fledgling attack (only four teams have scored less).
The Hammers remain without former Chelsea center back Kurt Zouma and summer signings Maxwel Cornet and Gianluca Scamacca. Defender Thilo Kehrer and backup goalkeeper Alphonse Areola are also injured.
Chelsea team news: There is no significant change in our injury situation, with Raheem Sterling suffering a setback having just returned with a substitute appearance last weekend. Mateo Kovačić, Denis Zakaria, and Wesley Fofana are getting closer but are not quite close enough just yet. N’Golo Kanté, Christian Pulisic are a bit further behind, while Édouard Mendy and Armando Broja have no set timelines at this point.
On the plus side, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang is back from sightseeing in Milan and João Félix has now served his three-match suspension that seemed to stretch on for decades, and is set to re-join the fun. Well, the theoretical fun. That we’re going to have once it all starts clicking. It’s gonna be great! One of these days.
Previously: Three clean sheets in a row, which makes my inner center back very happy. Also, here are some happy vibes from the training ground. Look at everybody scoring in training like they’re Fernando Torres!