Hammers to show they can live with Chelsea & elite
Fourth place West Ham United will take on rivals and Barclays Premier League leaders Chelsea at the London Stadium in Saturday's lunchtime kick-off. The hosts are winless in three, but have already proven this season that they're in the ascendancy, and moreover, can live against the best the division has to offer. David Moyes' men drew 1-1 with Brighton & Hove Albion in midweek, and Thomas Tuchel's men beat Watford 2-1 despite also not being at their best. Read our preview here:
There are no fresh injury concerns ahead of another big clash, with results elsewhere across the schedule simultaneously both elevating the Hammers and truncating the teams below them, waiting in the wings for a failure to get the win they require to be the best of the rest. Aaron Cresswell missed out on Wednesday, but might be risked on Saturday, with César Azpilicueta set to be his adversary down the left flank. The 31 year old remains a very important component of their setup, combining a bucketload of top-flight and important game experience with excellent crossing from both open play and set pieces. The front six have been relatively static in terms of selection in 2021/2022, and can rival on paper any side in the league below the breakaway three for their mixture of skills and attributes.
Jorginho, the villain turned hero of the piece against Manchester United last weekend, was another absentee from the Watford game, but should be in line to come straight back into the XI on Saturday. The absence of N'Golo Kanté alongside him likely precipitates Mason Mount performing a deeper playmaking role in the double pivot, with Ruben Loftus-Cheek more adept at playing on the front foot behind the striker, which could belatedly be Romelu Lukaku after his own injury concerns. Trevoh Chalobah's fine start to the campaign has been curtailed by a challenge on Wednesday, and he will be out for the foreseeable. The depth that Tuchel is able to count upon in key positions should mean his stay on the treatment table after bursting on the scene this term isn't felt too keenly.
The return of the Moyesiah?
Nine points separate the two sides after 14 games, and 99% of Hammers supporters would've taken that before the campaign kicked off in earnest. All of the top three have already, and will continue to, drop points in matches outside their own mini league. Liverpool did that in a five-goal thriller at the start of November against Moyes' charges, and he will be banking on a similar level of performance from his side in this one. Parimatch have surprisingly long odds of 3.50 for a draw that would suit neither, but would still be an excellent result for the hosts.