CHELSEA welcome West Ham to Stamford Bridge for Monday Night Football. Mark O'Haire (@MarkOHaire) previews the encounter, picking out his best bets.
Chelsea v West Ham | Monday 8th April 2019, 20:00 | Sky Sports
Chelsea made it six wins from their eight games since losing the EFL Cup final on penalties to Manchester City at Wembley in February. The Blues swept Brighton aside 3-0 at Stamford Bridge with Callum Hudson-Odi, Rubens Loftus-Cheek and Olivier Giroud all impressing on rare Premier League outings.
The Blues’ improved recent run sees Maurizio Sarri’s side move into fifth, outside the Champions League qualification places on goal difference ahead of this weekend. The West Londoners now begin a crunch 10-day period; after facing West Ham on Monday night, Chelsea meet Slavia Prague in the Europa League quarter-finals, as well as a trip to Anfield.
Sarri spoke glowingly about the availability and options in his squad after seeing the Blues dispatch Brighton with room to spare. The hosts enjoyed 68% of the ball, fired in 17 shots at goal and gave up a solitary on-target effort against the Seagulls; it means the hosts have now W8-D2-L1 in their last 10 outings at the Bridge across all competitions.
Looking at the Premier League in isolation, Chelsea have picked up 14 points from a possible 18 (W4-D2-L0) here since losing to Leicester before Christmas. The Blues conceded just twice in that run, whilst shutting out seven of their last 10 visitors; the home side have also W7-D1-L0 against bottom-half opposition under Sarri, leaking just three goals.
Hammers fail to show against Everton
Manuel Pellegrini described West Ham’s 2-0 defeat to Everton in their most recent outing as a “complete disaster”. The Hammers – searching for a fourth home Premier League win on the spin for the first time in 17 years – had no answer to the Toffees’ energy and imagination and were only saved from an heavy defeat by Lukasz Fabianski and the woodwork.
West Ham were terrible in the opening 45 minutes and could have been more than two goals down. Right from kick-off the visitors were quicker in body and mind, with Hammers' back four picked apart almost at will, with only a combination of desperate clearances, poor final balls and the alert Fabianski preventing the Toffees from piling on the misery.
Pellegrini’s posse mustered only one on-target effort and their toothless display saw a total of just three attempts at goal, their lowest tally in a home Premier League game since 2005/06. The unforgiving Hammers fans booed the team off at both half-time and full-time with Monday night’s visitors now claiming just W3-D2-L6 since mid-January.
Those three triumphs all arrived at the London Stadium and fans will be concerned that two of West Ham’s most recent three encounters have featured arguably been their worst performances under Pellegrini (home to Everton and away at Cardiff). The other game in this sequence saw the Hammers survive a shock defeat at home to Huddersfield.
West Ham to suffer away-day Blues
West Ham are winless on the road since December (W0-D1-L5), firing blanks in five of their last six outside the London Stadium. Over the course of the campaign, the Hammers have departed pointless in eight of 15 road trips – six of which saw the guests fail to score.
What’s more, the East Londoners are a dismal W6-D8-L25 against Big Six sides across all competitions since 2016/17. Viewing purely away trips, the Hammers have lost 13 of 18 winless matches over this spell as they conceded at least three times in nine, with their hosts winning by at least two clear goals on eight occasions.
So naturally, I’ll be siding with Chelsea on Monday night and there’s room to manoeuvre in the prices with Betway offering a very fair 3/4 on the Blues bagging maximum points in a match that produces fewer than five goals.
Only three of Chelsea’s 16 Stamford Bridge encounters under Sarri have beaten the Over 4.5 Goals line, two of which came against Cardiff and Huddersfield. The hosts have seen this selection pay-out in 16 of their overall 19 Premier League triumphs this term, whilst all 14 of West Ham’s defeats have featured Under 4.5 Goals under Pellegrini’s watch.
Chelsea v West Ham – Chelsea to win and Under 4.5 Goals (3/4 Betway)