Chelsea vs West Ham United
About 20 months ago, this match season produced one of the Premier League highlights – a mesmeric performance from a player who will be remembered as one of the modern day greats of the English game.
It was a routine home win in a fixture in which West Ham had not triumphed for 19 years (15 visits stretching back to 2002).
That record had to end, of course, and it duly did last November when Aaron Cresswell netted the only goal in a West Ham triumph.
The question now is: can lightning strike twice?
Well in the Premier League, particularly this season without fans (for the majority of matches) and with the games coming thicker and faster than ever before, there have been far more surprises than usual.
David Moyes’ West Ham, for example, were being mentioned as candidates for relegation in the summer, but they have since silenced their critics and secured 21 points from 13 matches – form that has taken them to within touching distance of the top four.
The Scot has defied the majority of expectations to such an extent that his side sits just a point behind their hosts on Monday night and, having lost just one of their last six games in the top flight, will certainly not fear their opponents as they make the short trip across London.
The Hammers, who received a real boost this week with the news Michail Antonio has agreed to sign a contract which will keep him at the club until 2023, will check on him and Fabian Balbuena.
Antonio is battling to recover from the hamstring injury which has kept him out of the last three matches, while Balbuena missed Wednesday’s 1-1 draw against Crystal Palace due to a minor knock.
Moyes’ compatriot in the dugout, of course, needs no introduction to either side. Frank Lampard insists he hasn’t forgotten his West Ham roots, even though some of the east end London faithful have never forgiven him for jumping ship as a player in the early part of the millennium.
His £200 million summer transfer spending has made Chelsea obligatory title Premier League challengers and two League defeats on the bounce means a win is vital for the Blues if they are to keep in touch at the top.
As recently as a week ago, they were being heralded as contenders in this season’s title race, but back-to-back defeats at Everton and Wolves then led to them dropping out of the top four.
Callum Hudson-Odoi and Hakim Ziyech will face late fitness tests after they have both been sidelined with hamstring problems, although were back in full training for the first time on Friday.
They are more likely to start on the bench as Chelsea aim to bounce back and West Ham strive to move above their big-spending opponents just in time for Christmas.
In addition to that Cresswell winner last term, the Hammers have actually lost only one of their last six league matches at Stamford Bridge and even went onto complete a double over Chelsea with a late victory in a thrilling match in July when Andriy Yarmolenko hit an 89th minute winner.
You have to go back to 1974 for the last time West Ham beat Chelsea three times in a row, a four-match winning sequence which included 4-2 and 3-1 wins. Among the West Ham scorers in those games were England World Cup-winning captain Bobby Moore and a certain Frank Lampard senior (father of the now Chelsea boss).
Overall, the record stands at 50 Chelsea successes, 42 West Ham victories and 22 draws.
|Chelsea vs West Ham United||Half Time Full Time
Home-Home @ 2.21
|December 22, 04:00 (GMT+8)|
After two successive defeats, I cannot back against Chelsea in this one – they have to win and will.
The SBOTOP Premier League betting odds tend to back up that viewpoint too.
You can back Lampard’s side 1X2 @ 1.46 with the Hammers far adrift @ 6.60. A draw @ 4.30 has the potential to earn a nice pay day.
With Asian Handicap odds, Chelsea are also firm favourites -1.25 @ 2.04 compared to West Ham +1.25 @ 1.89.
Double Chance West Ham or Draw @ 2.59 may well tempt West Ham die-hards, although history suggests they may struggle to get a positive result in this fixture two years in a row.
An identical outcome to last season’s match – correct score 0-1 – is on offer @ 22.00.
|A SHORT EXPLANATION ON HOW OUR () BETS ARE WORTH:|
|= €20 (Highly confident)||= €10 (CONFIDENT)||= €5 (SOMEWHAT CONFIDENT)|
Disclaimer: Odds are correct at time of publish.
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