We preview the Premier League battle between West Ham and Chelsea, including our pre-match prediction for the cross-London derby on Saturday.
West Ham vs Chelsea: The Quick Hits
- Chelsea to end run of goalless draws with victory against West Ham.
- A good chance of a decisive late goal at the London Stadium
- But can West Ham solve their goalscoring woes?
Chelsea couldn’t bring up their 150th victory in a London derby against Fulham last time out so will now set their sights on trying to become the first side in the capital to hit that mark with a trip across the city to West Ham United on Saturday.
Back-to-back goalless draws might not have been exactly what Graham Potter wanted, even if it has solved some defensive frailties. Their last 12 games in the Premier League have seen them win just two games (D5, L5) during which time they’ve netted only seven goals. That’s as many as their scored in the first three league games of his Stamford Bridge reign, all of which ended in victory.
The sight of the claret and blue shirts should bring some joy to his heart though, as he’s unbeaten in all seven games he’s managed against West Ham, although he has tasted victory in just two of those.
For quite a while, Chelsea proved a bit of an incurable curse for David Moyes. But with three victories in his last four home games with the Hammers against the Blues, that’s as many victories as he had in the previous 13 against them in all competitions during his time as Everton, Sunderland and Manchester United boss.
The trouble is West Ham have lost eight of their last 10 Premier League London derbies, which is as many defeats as in their previous 20 such games combined. And although they won this exact fixture 3-2 last season, they’ve alternated between winning (four) and not winning (D1 L2) their last seven Premier League home games against Chelsea.
Chelsea 2-1 West Ham: 3 September 2022 (Premier League)
This almost seems like a lifetime ago, doesn’t it? Thomas Tuchel was still in charge of the Blues, although this would end up being his last Premier League game at the helm as defeat against Dinamo Zagreb in the UEFA Champions League three days later proved the end for the German.
Chelsea came into this first meeting of the season on the back of defeat against Southampton and when Michail Antonio put the Hammers ahead with his 13th goal in a Premier League London derby for West Ham, it looked as though the axe might swing a little earlier.
But for the first time at home in the English top-flight since January 2009, Chelsea responded to conceding the first goal of the game in the second half to pick up the much-needed victory.
It proved a memorable day for Ben Chilwell scoring the equaliser before providing the assist for Kai Havertz to net the winner. His welcome return to action in the 0-0 draw against Fulham from off the substitutes bench will have been a welcome relief as the Chelsea injury list finally seems to be easing.
Chilwell couldn’t quite inspire Chelsea against the Cottagers though as they recorded back-to-back goalless draws and will hope to avoid a bit of unwanted history this time out as the Blues have never registered three consecutive 0-0 league games.
It’s certainly a case of the away day blues for Chelsea at present though, winless in their last six such Premier League games. It’s the longest such run under a specific manager since Jose Mourinho’s final six away league games back in 2015, after which he was let go.
Add in that the Blues have won just two of their last nine Saturday lunchtime kick-offs in the Premier League, one of which was that 3-2 defeat to West Ham in December 2021, and you can understand why optimism might not be as high this time around.
Especially as we might be beginning to see an upturn in form from West Ham. They’ve earned four points for their last two Premier League games, which is as many as they had in their previous nine (W1, D1, L7).
The 2-0 victory against Everton also ended a run of three straight home defeats, and they’ll be looking to record consecutive clean sheets at home in the competition for just the second time in David Moyes reign.
Players to Watch
West Ham: Jarrod Bowen
If they are to be victorious at the London Stadium, then West Ham are going to need goals.
I know that sounds rather too obvious from a website that focuses on data-driven storytelling, but that has been a struggle for the Hammers this season.
It hasn’t been for the lack of trying though. Yes, they only have 18 in the ‘goals for’ column, but a look at the underlying metrics suggests David Moyes’ side are creating the opportunities that should see them higher in the table.
Their 27.8 xG is the 10th highest in the Premier League this season, even better than Chelsea (25.5 xG) but the -9.8 differential between their xG and actual goals is the highest in the competition so far this season
Maybe the signing of Danny Ings is going to start seeing some of these chances created in the remainder of the season converted, but a lot of pressure will continue to be weighted upon the shoulders of current top scorer Jarrod Bowen – even more so with summer-signing Gianluca Scamacca out with injury. All four of Bowen’s strikes so far this season have come at the London Stadium and another one this Saturday would be gratefully received by all around him.
Chelsea: Thiago Silva
Much has been made of Chelsea’s January outlay. Enzo Fernandez and Noni Madueke the latest of the eight signings to make their debut for the Blues against Fulham last time out. But maybe one of their key players down the stretch will be a 38-year-old who’s looking set to sign a further extension to his time at Stamford Bridge.
Whether it has been Tuchel or Potter, Thiago Silva’s role at the heart of the defence can be shown by his willingness to get on the ball. The Brazilian – who is the oldest player in the Premier League this season (38 years, 96 days on his last appearance) – leads the way for Chelsea in 2022-23 when it comes to touches (1,739) comfortably clear of the likes of Marc Cucurella (1,196), Kalidou Koulibaly (1,100), Mason Mount (979) and Cesar Azpilicueta (918).
The former Milan and Paris Saint-Germain defender has been integral to Chelsea advancing the ball up the pitch from defence this season, with his ball carry progression rate of 96m per 90 minutes the highest of any Blues’ defender.
It’s not just what he does with the ball that will be key to Chelsea’s potential rise in the table. Silva won plenty of praise for the way he led the defence in nullifying the threat posed by Aleksandar Mitrovic last time out, although a different challenge awaits from the likes of Bowen, Manuel Lanzini and Michail Antonio on Saturday.
West Ham vs Chelsea Prediction
The Opta supercomputer is back on the Chelsea bandwagon again this weekend. It had backed the Blues to be victorious last time out, and although that didn’t come to fruition, once again it believes Chelsea will pick up the win this weekend.
They have won four of their last five Premier League games against West Ham, and victory here would be the first time they’ve beaten the Hammers three times in a row since April 2011.
And don’t be surprised if the winning goal comes late on at the London Stadium. There have been seven such strikes in the final five minutes of Premier League meetings between the sides, more than any other fixture in the competition’s history.
In fact, each of the last three games between the teams have been settled by a goal in the final five minutes. So, if you’re at the London Stadium this Saturday don’t head off for that tube early – you might live to regret it as the roar goes up behind you.
You’ve seen how the Opta supercomputer thinks the match will play out this weekend, but what do you think will happen? Let us know…
How do you see the match going this Saturday?— Opta Analyst (@OptaAnalyst) February 9, 2023