The Hammers will be hoping to build upon their impressive first victory of the season last week at Everton, which helped propel them off the bottom of the Premier League table. It had been a difficult start to the campaign for new boss Manuel Pellegrini and his side, but everything finally came together last week and can only have given them confidence ahead of the Blues’ visit.
West Ham team news
The West Ham manager confirmed on Thursday that Jack Wilshere, who missed the win over Everton last weekend, faces six weeks on the sidelines. The summer recruit is suffering from an ankle problem, after a screw in the midfielders foot is believed to have come loose from a previous operation and had to be removed.
Elsewhere, Chicharito remains a doubt as he is still suffering from a virus that meant that he also missed out on the trip to Merseyside. Meanwhile, long-term absentees Andy Carroll, Winston Reid and Manuel Lanzini are still some way off a return to action.
The Hammers are sweating over the fitness of Marko Arnautović, though, after Pellegrini revealed that he picked up an issue with his knee against Everton. The striker had to be substituted shortly after notching the third goal for the Irons, and he would be a huge loss to the side if he is unavailable.
It is unlikely that Pellegrini will make too many changes to the winning side he put out at Goodison if any at all. After a much-improved defensive performance, Łukasz Fabiański, Pablo Zabaleta, Fabián Balbuena, Issa Diop and Arthur Massuka, should all keep their places. Whilst in midfield, the impressive Declan Rice is likely to sit in front of the defence, with captain Mark Noble and the tireless Pedro Obiang alongside him.
After claiming his first two goals in English football on his debut, Andriy Yarmolenko is expected to start on the right, with Felipe Anderson operating on the left flank. If Arnautović doesn’t overcome the knock to his knee, Michail Antonio and Lucas Perez will battle it out for a starting berth up top.
What has the manager had to say?
When speaking to the media ahead of the London derby, Pellegrini touched briefly on why he chose to make the changes he did at Everton and why he was pleased with the performance, as he said:
“I think we started the game with the players we did because, the week before, we worked really well with them. We try to play well and win the most amount of games. We must now try to improve on what we did against Everton.
“I think it is in those moments that you have to grow as a manager. It’s very easy to think or say that we must change everything. It’s more difficult to try to continue believing in the way you work when the results are not what you want or not what you expected. I saw the players all week that I know, with their experience, they believe in what we are doing and they trust, and I’m happy with how they showed that.”
The Hammers boss spoke about how he is aware of the threats Chelsea will bring, but he is hoping his side can build on their victory last week:
“It’s impossible to start better than Chelsea. They’ve won all five Premier League games. Every game is different in the Premier League. We must be confident that we can play at home or away in the same way that we tried to do in the last game. We need to concentrate in defence because they have very good players that can make the difference in small spaces. But I am confident that our team can play a good game.
“A derby has a little bit more importance, of course. I know, here in London, there are a lot of derbies with different teams. Our first at home is against Chelsea, the team at the top of the table, so I think that is one more motivation to try to beat them.”
Chelsea team news
The Blues’ preparations ahead of the match have been slightly affected after adverse weather conditions meant that Maurizio Sarri’s side were unable to fly out of Greece until Friday lunchtime. However, they will be coming into the game full of confidence after their superb start to the season.
After making five changes for his sides Europa League tie, Sarri is expected to again ring the changes and return to a similar line-up to what he has fielded in the Premier League. However, after picking up knocks on Thursday night, first team favourites Pedro and Mateo Kovačić could both miss the trip across London. Squad players Cesc Fabregas and Ruben Loftus-Cheek are all a doubt for the fixture.
Blues’ key man
This one isn’t exactly hard. The key man for Chelsea is, of course, Eden Hazard. The Belgian is the most in-form player in the Premier League at this moment in time, having scored a hat-trick against Cardiff City last week. As well as being the creative, dynamic attacking midfielder we have come to expect over the years, the Blues’ number 10 is looking incredibly dangerous in front of goal.
In a free role off the left-hand side of the Chelsea front three, Hazard has the potential to cause any side problems on his day – and the Hammers must set up to stop him having an influence on the game. If Declan Rice plays in front of the back four again, he could have a big role in attempting to stop Sarri’s main man from having an impact. Hazard could be the difference between getting a result and being on the end of another home defeat.
Olivier Giroud is sure to be a handful for the West Ham defence as well on Sunday, and this is how his stats compare to the Irons’ main man Marko Arnautović so far this season:
Here is the Premier League head-to-head record between the two sides:
Now for the more recent head-to-head record between the London rivals.
Despite the Hammers’ poor overall record against the Blues, they haven’t matched up too badly over the last couple of years, winning two of the last six encounters, with just two defeats and two draws.
In March 2016, West Ham claimed a 2-2 draw at Stamford Bridge but were unfortunate to let the lead slip in the last minute of the game. In the first game of the 16/17 Premier League season, Chelsea ran out 2-1 winners courtesy of another late goal. The Irons got their revenge just a couple of months later though, when they were on the right end of the same result, on what was a memorable League Cup night at the London Stadium. But Chelsea completed the double in March 2017, as they again recorded a 2-1 victory.
Last season the Hammers had a much better record against the West Londoners. In December of last year, the Irons beat the Blues 1-0 through an early Arnautović goal. That result played a huge part in changing the club’s fortunes. They then held out for an impressive 1-1 draw away to Chelsea earlier this year, to boost their survival hopes.
West Ham and Manuel Pellegrini will be hoping to build upon their victory last weekend and burst the Blues’ bubble, by claiming all three points on Sunday afternoon.