With the league season beginning to come to an end, there will be some major ties to be played. None, though, are arguably as big as this tie – West Ham United know that a win against Chelsea puts them in the driving seat for UEFA Champions League qualification. A loss, though, likely leaves the dream in tatters. Will pragmatist coach David Moyes look to push the button and attack?
Or will he be too worried about leaving an effervescent Blues attack with too much space to roam into? With this huge match-up, it’s hard to say what happens next.
West Ham news
The Hammers are beginning to rack up injuries at precisely the wrong moment of the season. Some major injuries have taken place, with the likes of Declan Rice and Michail Antonio out of the running – likely for most of the season.
The left-hand side of the team is a state, too, with both Arthur Masuaku and Aaron Cresswell both likely to be injured and thus likely to miss out on the match. Craig Dawson is suspended, too, which will leave West Ham scrambling around for solutions.
Fabian Balbuena might be brought back in for what would be his first start for Moyes since December. That’s quite the game to be dropped into, but needs must as West Ham look to try and make their staple back three formation work with limited numbers.
Meanwhile, the Blues will arrive at the London Stadium without anything like the same injury woes. Thiago Silva is fit again, as are Cesar Azpilicueta, N’Golo Kante, and Ben Chilwell. As such, we should see a full-strength Blues side come into this match. Reece James might sit this one out, at least on the bench, as Callum Hudson-Odoi might offer a more penetrative solution from the right-hand side of attack.
Timo Werner and Christian Pulisic could also get involved in the game, with both potentially starting behind Kai Havertz at the tip of the attack. However, the improved run of form that Hachim Ziyech is on might see Chelsea boss Thomas Tuchel look to try and fit the Moroccan back into the team as a reward for his sound form.
Edouard Mendy will likely return in-between the sticks, too, despite the impressive performance of Kepa for the Blues in their win against Manchester City and his decent showing in the home match against Brighton and Hove Albion.
This should be an interesting match, with both teams knowing this could be define their season and next. In fact, it could even determine the success – or failure – of both managers. With the Blues losing only one of their last 13, though, they should arrive at London Stadium feeling good. That contrasts to West Ham losing just one of their last ten at home, though.
Expect a good game, but it might be one that does little for either club in terms of securing UCL football – giving others, such as Liverpool, a chance to steal in.