The second match day of the Premier League begins this weekend and it’s a feisty London derby for the fans to look forward to as Chelsea travel to the London Stadium to face West Ham United. Both the teams started off their league campaign with a 1-1 draw as the Hammers were held to a draw away at Bournemouth while the Blues shared the spoils with Liverpool at home.
David Moyes’ side have been subject to a lot of media attention as it has been an eventful summer for West Ham. Their club captain Declan Rice moved to Arsenal for a fee upwards of 100 million pounds with bonuses which has left a gaping hole in midfield for the Hammers to fix. They have managed to sign Edson Alvarez and James Ward Prowse but are still on the market to sign more players to improve their squad.
They will now be up against fellow London neighbours Chelsea who have had a completely opposite situation in the transfer window. Pochettino’s side have managed to add 2 more players this summer taking their total incomings in the summer to 11. Romeo Lavia and Moises Caicedo have both been signed by the Blues for a combined fee of 155 million and the summer transfer spending spree doesn’t look like it is going to stop.
When and where?
Date: 20th August 2023.
Time: 15:30 GMT.
Venue: London Stadium.
Referee: John Brooks.
Assistants: Lee Betts, Akil Howson.
Fourth Official: Craig Pawson.
VAR: Paul Tierney.
Assistant VAR: Scott Ledger.
David Moyes will be able to start both Edson Alvarez and James Ward Prowse in the midfield against the Blues at the weekend as both are fit and available to start. The former did not pass a late fitness test to be a part of the travelling squad against Bournemouth last weekend while the latter has trained with the team throughout this week. There were no new injuries for the Hammers at the weekend and they have more or less a fully fit squad to play at on Sunday.
Chelsea lost their newly appointed club captain Reece James to injury at the weekend after the right-back limped off with a hamstring injury which will keep him on the sidelines for atleast 3 weeks. New summer signing Malo Gusto will make his debut in James’ absence for the Blues while Trevoh Chalobah also has picked up a fresh hamstring injury ruling him out for the game. Benoit Badiashile, Armando Broja, Wesley Fofana and Christopher Nkunku will also not be a part of the travelling squad as they are all nursing long-term injuries. Moises Caicedo and Romeo Lavia are doubts for the game as they haven’t had adequate training sessions with the squad though they may still make the travelling squad if Pochettino decides to involve them both.
West Ham adopted a very conservative approach against Bournemouth as he looked to play on the counterattack and had just 35% possession at the Vitality Stadium. A rather interesting game plan used by David Moyes and the same could be used against Chelsea to play on the counter. With both Edson Alvarez and Ward Prowse now being available, this tactical philosophy can be played even more efficiently by the Hammers. The double pivot of Alvarez and Ward Prowse complement each other while the creativity of Lucas Paqueta in the no.10 role ahead of them will help Moyes’ side create chances.
Chelsea lined up in a peculiar 3-5-2 formation at the weekend rather than the usual 4-2-3-1 system which took many by surprise. Pochettino decided to go with a back 5 against the lethal Liverpool attack with Ben Chilwell playing high up the pitch on the left wing instead of playing as a traditional wing back to man mark Trent Alexander Arnold. The game against the Hammers will mostly see the return of the 4-2-3-1 which was the go-to formation for the Blues in the pre-season. Since West Ham will sit back and absorb the pressure, the Blues will have to find ways of creating chances against the low block and also be wary of the threat the Hammers’ attack poses on the counterattack.
The Mexican will be making his debut for his new club and no better opposition to face than Chelsea who held strong interest in signing the former Ajax man in January. He has big boots to fill replacing Declan Rice who anchored the midfield efficiently for the last 4 years though there is potential in the 25-year-old to replace the Englishman. His intelligent positioning, ability to win the ball in the middle of the pitch and ping balls from deeper positions to start attacks will all come handy for the Hammers if they are to inflict damage on the Blues and get their first win of the season.
The Argentine won the Player of the Match award on the opening matchday against Liverpool and really looked worth every penny the Blues paid for his signature in January. The freedom Pochettino gave him to not play as the lone CDM and move up to join the attack and use his creativity in the final third saw the 22-year-old make 117 touches, most passes into the final third, most passes into the opposition box and create 2 chances throughout the game. Facing a West Ham side who are expected to sit back in a low block will require Enzo’s creativity and midfield brilliance yet again if the Blues are to find a way of scoring.
West Ham (4-2-3-1): Areola, Emerson, Aguerd, Zouma, Coufal, Ward Prowse, Alvarez, Bowen, Paqueta, Benrahma, Antonio.
Chelsea (4-2-3-1): Sanchez, Gusto, Disasi, Colwill, Chilwell, Enzo, Caicedo, Mudryk, Maatsen, Madueke, Jackson.