WEST HAM host Chelsea this Sunday. Football expert Ben Levene (@benlevene96) analyses the Super Sunday clash.
West Ham v Chelsea | Sunday 23rd September 2018, 13:30 | Sky Sports
West Ham deservedly got off the mark last weekend when running away 3-1 winners at Goodison Park.
The Hammers were good value for that victory and looked dangerous on the counter, with Andriy Yarmolenko, Felipe Anderson and talisman Marko Arnautovic troubling the Everton backline.
Manuel Pelligrini’s side host Chelsea this Sunday, who have made a flawless start to the campaign, winning five from five.
It took Maurizio Sarri little time to implement his philosophy and with a squad combusted with undoubtable quality, there is no reason the Blues cannot continue their strong run. They look frightening going forwards.
Arguably the best player in the Premier League, Eden Hazard, is thriving in his new role under the Italian and is favourite to notch another PFA Player of the Year award, we can’t forget he’s spearheaded two title triumphs since moving to Stamford Bridge in the summer of 2012.
Hazard has formed a savvy partnership with Olivier Giroud and he fed off the Frenchman twice last weekend. Sarri has also added Mateo Kovacic and Jorginho from elite European sides – it’s no surprise Chelsea have been able to monopolise possession, averaging a division high 66%.
Only Man City and Liverpool have created more chances than Chelsea this season and I struggle to see West Ham stopping this free-flowing Chelsea.
Hammers’ defensive woes
The Hammers were arguably hard done by at the Emirates, but they still conceded three times, having been breached six times in the two games prior.
They are yet to keep a clean sheet this season and while the Fabian Balbuena and Issa Diop centre-back pairing is growing, they are new to the league and are still vulnerable. I expect them to be punished.
West Ham could cause problems going the other way. As mentioned earlier, each of their front-trio are capable and can produce individual moments at any given time. I like the idea of goals here.
Chelsea have scored two or more in each of their five league games this season, scoring three or more in three of those.
West Ham won’t be rollovers and can hold their own in parts but I think back to Chelsea’s wins over Arsenal and Newcastle. They weren’t entirely at it in either of those games but had that bit more to get the job done.
Chelsea to win a game featuring Over 1.5 Goals is 17/20 (Coral) and looks a solid play for this London derby. That’s my main bet.
Noble to show his nasty side
Given the derby nature of this clash, I wouldn’t put anyone off a half-stake at Mark Noble to be booked at 3/1 (Unibet).
The West Ham captain ranks well for tackles and fouls and plays on the right-side of the Hammers’ midfield three, so will have to deal with the awkward movement of Hazard, Kovacic and Marcos Alonso who are three of Chelsea’s four most fouled players this season.
Since the start of the 2016/17 season, Noble has been booked 18 times in 71 matches, which is 25%. The 3/1 implies a 25% chance and with this being a derby, surely his odds should be shorter.
If we look at West Ham matches against London rivals, Noble has been booked six times in his last 18 appearances against one of Arsenal, Chelsea and Spurs, which is 30%. There is definite value in backing him at 3/1 in the card market.