WEST HAM welcome London rivals Chelsea on Wednesday night in the Premier League. Jack Lambden (@_JackL_) analyses the encounter.
West Ham vs Chelsea | Wednesday 1st July 2020, 20:15 | Sky Sports
East and West London collide on Wednesday night as Frank Lampard takes his Chelsea side to his former employers West Ham in their quest for a top four finish.
Although Chelsea’s performances since the Premier League restart haven’t produced a complete 90 minutes that Lampard will be looking for, the two league wins and FA Cup success have given plenty of encouragement for Blues fans that the appointment of the legendary midfielder will prove fruitful for years to come.
If Chelsea can play with the intensity they’ve shown on a fair few occasions this season on a consistent basis, this youthful squad could well flourish. The summer arrival of Timo Werner should solve the lack of clinical edge which has been missing in games against bottom half sides, something which was evident in the reverse fixture of this match-up in November when the Hammers stole three priceless points from Stamford Bridge.
The Chelsea boss has managed his squad well across the season but the addition of Werner will not be the only summer signing if the Blues are serious about a title challenge next season. One man that has been increasingly linked is West Ham midfielder Declan Rice.
Rice has been a shining light in yet another woeful season for the Hammers, improving all elements of his game but particularly his composure on the ball in tight areas of the pitch. The 21 year-old has been a tough tackler in the middle of the park all season, becoming increasingly busy in the challenge with West Ham’s possession numbers falling heavily since David Moyes replace Manuel Pellegrini in December.
In the last seven matches in his regular covering central midfield role, Rice has averaged 3.57 tackles and in his most outing against another local rival Tottenham, he racked up six successful tackles. There’s no doubt that the youngster will want to impress against his potential suitors so I like the look of him to register 3+ tackles, priced at evens with PokerStars.
In that aforementioned first meeting of the two sides back in the Autumn, Rice won three tackles on a day that West Ham reached 26 in total so the even money odds look generous with the same line as short as 8/11 elsewhere.
Blues backed in London derby
I want to tackle the outrights here as, despite Rice’s decent showings, I don’t rate West Ham at all. David Moyes arrived with the statement that “I win games of football” but with a win percentage of just 21%, the club look in no better position than when Pellegrini was sacked just after Christmas.
Conceding soft goals has been a problem for the Claret and Blues for years now and to add to the mire the team currently find themselves in, the attacking potency at the other end of the pitch has dried up too.
The experiment of starting Michail Antonio as a sole striker seems to have run its course with Seb Haller currently out injured. With no outlet up front, the ball simply keeps coming back at them and putting a defence already low on confidence under even more pressure.
Two blanks since the league resumption (admittedly against Wolves and Tottenham) with low Expected Goals (xG) recordings of just 0.44 and 0.83 underline the problem and if Chelsea are clued up to balls in behind, they should nullify any limited threat that West Ham pose.
Chelsea to win and Under 4.5 Goals is evens with Coral, and it’s a price I’m happy to get behind given the home side’s lack of goalscoring prowess. West Ham will likely sit deep, let Chelsea have the ball and try and hit them on the counter so it’s likely to be a game where it’ll be down to the Blues to break down their opponents.
With little home advantage (you could argue there wasn’t any at the London Stadium anyway), Chelsea should play with not too much pressure on their shoulders. Lampard’s troops have won five successive games in all competitions now and their last 15 victories have seen Under 4.5 Goals land.
We’ve not seen too many goal filled games since ‘Project Restart’ commenced, with 24 of the 25 matches registering Under 4.5 Goals. Too add to this, there hasn’t been more than four goals in this fixture in over 10 years, a run stretching back 18 matches so if you’re confident of backing West Ham to lose for a 19th time this season, adding the goals element seems a good way to go.
West Ham vs Chelsea – Declan Rice 3+ Tackles (1/1 PokerStars)
West Ham vs Chelsea – Chelsea to win and Under 4.5 Goals (1/1 Coral)