Premier League Preview: Chelsea vs. West Ham United
- Chelsea remains unbeaten in 13 PL matches since Hiddink’s return
- West Ham battling for Europe spot
- Hazard, Costa out for Blues
- Hammers can move to third with win
Chelsea will host West Ham United at Stamford Bridge on Saturday (Watch live, 11 a.m. ET available on USA Network and online via Live Extra) as the Blues look to stay in the battle for a spot in Europe next season.
While Guus Hiddink’s side unbeaten Premier League run has slightly taken attention off of the club’s issues, recent exits in the Champions League and FA Cup have reapplied the pressure.
The Blues will miss not having Diego Costa and Eden Hazard available in the attack, so Willian and Bertrand Traore will figure to be key figures for the home side.
Conversely, West Ham boasts a very underrated attacking core, led by Dimitri Payet and Enner Valencia, who have scored a combined 10 goals this season in PL play. Defensively, Michail Antonio features for the Hammers, having added six goals of his own.
With Slaven Bilic’s team sitting fifth in the PL standings, a spot in Europe next season is becoming more and more realistic. The Hammers are unbeaten in eight of their last 10 matches, which is huge for the team’s confidence down the stretch.
What they’re saying
Bilic welcomes Chelsea test
“Psychologically it is just a football game, what we have played before. Twenty-ninth round against Chelsea or whatever. It is just a three-point game and we don’t feel that kind of pressure. But it is definitely better to be in this situation than to be in the relegation battle or to be in the middle of the table, secure but without those positives. This is a situation we should worship. We should be in this situation every year.”
Hiddink doesn’t expect pushover in West Ham
“I expect a tough game, they are in fifth position and maybe not just dreaming of 4th position. This is a team showing very good character ,but not just that, they can play. They have players who can score in any position.”
Chelsea’s injuries don’t bode well against a West Ham side that has a lot to play for as the season winds down. With nine points separating the two clubs in the standings, the Blues are desperate for a victory. I think the absence of Costa will be too much for Hiddink’s men to overcome, and the side will lose its first PL match since the Dutchman took charge, 3-1.