Date: Sunday 24th April 2022
Venue: Stamford Bridge
Kick-off: 14:00 BST
This afternoon’s game sees us take on West Ham at Stamford Bridge and it’s all feeling a little edgy now. Far be it for me to catastrophise with the suggestion the wheels have come off at Chelsea, we’re still Club World Champions and third in the Premier League, but it does feel as if we might have a bit of a slow puncture.
Poor games are creeping in at completely the wrong time, Brentford – embarrassing, Real Madrid – awful, Arsenal – mind-numbingly frustrating, all at home, and we seem to be relentlessly leaking goals, with 8 conceded in our last two in the league at Stamford Bridge. Christensen and Sarr were a painful watch against Arsenal, but they’re not the common denominator across those three games. Mendy is, but whilst he’s certainly not been at the top of his game of late and most definitely was to be blame for gifting Real Madrid their third goal against us in the home leg, I wouldn’t lay all of the defeats at his door. The one notable absence across the three games, of course, is Kovacic – and therein lies our problem – not Kovacic necessarily but more the absence of our best players.
I’m not sure what Tuchel would have thought of Stamford Beach, if he thought Wednesday night was down to the pitch, but Arsenal didn’t appear to have the same problems as us playing on it. Mind you, despite Arteta’s moaning to the contrary, they are a far more rested side without the Champions League or any other domestic cups to play in. They also played their best XI, something we haven’t been able to do due to injuries and bizarrely even through choice on occasion it seems.
Like Arsenal, West Ham will be more rested than we are, in fact, they’ve had a full week to prepare. They’ve only won one of their last four in the Premier League though, and they have a tough run-in, balancing the Europa League whilst aiming for at least a top six finish, so given our recent form at home, they might be banking on an easy three points from this one. They’re seventh in the table, and could go sixth above United with a win, they’ve also already taken three points off us this season in the reverse fixture.
We go into today’s game third in the table but not quite as secure as we thought we were. The gap between us and fourth place is down to two points and whilst we have two games in hand, given our form at home, those games are a long way from being points. Our only saving grace right now is that those directly behind Arsenal don’t appear particularly bothered about a Champions League place. I suppose the question for us today though, is, are our players?
Going into today’s game, Thomas Tuchel, says “It’s a bit fragile at the moment I have to say. It was against Brentford, was against Real Madrid. Was straight away better in the next three games. Now we had a good start to the match (vs Arsenal). I was very happy with the energy, the quality. It is a bit like ‘oh not again’ and once you have this feeling it is hard to get rid of it again. Sometimes it is not a problem tactically or shape. Sometimes it is due to quality from the opponent you have to accept. It is hard to separate whether it’s our mistake, not enough or difficult to defend this chance. It can happen a feeling creeps in you don’t want to have in a home game. You want to feel you are capable of coming back. The game now is different but hard to argue. We have a row of three home games with similar results that we absolutely don’t like. It is now the job to convince the players to keep going, supporters to keep pushing and hang in positive because we have a lot to build on, rely on and trust. Don’t get superstitious now and believe in things that aren’t there. It is another challenge on top of it.
This match (vs Arsenal), even if the result is pretty similar – for me it has not the same similarities like the match against Real Madrid and Brentford at home in terms of we were not disciplined enough with the ball or were dragged out of shape. The first half was a wild half, open half where we gave an unbelievable goal away due to a personal mistakes. Once again, the amount of individual errors is too high. We cannot talk around it and should not. I think in 22 we have 8 big mistakes that lead direct. I don’t know, I would stop it if I knew. It’s awkward because in the first half it was open, the second I think we controlled it, the counter attack better, we were a bit more alert to control it. I could not feel it in real time or when we analysed it that there was a real danger in the second half to lose it. I thought the opposite, we were totally in charge and controlled where we want to control but we had two very awkward goals. It is almost impossible to concede three goals in a match like this given our quality and determination we usually have. In the moment it is a bit fragile in home games. There is another home game coming and we have the chance to do better.
I think he (David Moyes) is doing an incredible job in a very popular club and very emotional club, a team together. A group with a coach that is enjoyable to watch. We follow the Euro League games, I follow a lot of their games because it is nice to watch with a full investment physically. The players are absolutely tired after their matches. It is very emotional, a very physical squad. Very hard to break down, to create chances. Very dangerous on counter-attacks and set pieces. There is a lot to take care about. A lot of physicality and commitment to stand up against them. Full credit to them, will be tough.”
West Ham manager, David Moyes, meanwhile, says “Chelsea were arguably the favourites for the Premier League in the first three months of the season – since then you’ve seen the strength of Manchester City and Liverpool. They’re champions of Europe and have a really good squad and manager. They’ve had their ups and downs as all teams do, but they have a top team. It’s just the top two have ploughed ahead. It was a great result for us at the start of the season when they were in top form and now we have to try and get a result at Stamford Bridge as well.”
For Chelsea, Ben Chilwell (knee), remains our long-term absentee, Callum Hudson-Odoi (Achillest, Mateo Kovacic (ankle) and Antonio Rudiger (groin) are also injured, and Christensen is a doubt.
For West Ham, Angelo Ogbonna is a long-term absentee and both Kurt Zouma and Issa Diop (both ankle) are expected to miss out through injury.
CHELSEA (Possible line-up): Mendy; Chalobah, Thiago Silva, Azpilicueta, James, Kante, Jorginho; Alonso, Mount, Werner, Havertz
WEST HAM (Possible line-up): Fabianski; Johnson, Dawson, Rice, Cresswell; Bowen, Fornals, Soucek, Lanzini, Benrahma; Antonio
Chelsea 3-0 West Ham (21st December 2020)
CURRENT FORM (PL)
WEST HAM: LWLWLD
- Chelsea have lost one of the past 15 at home to West Ham in the Premier League.
- West Ham have won three of their last five top-flight games against Chelsea.
- West Ham won the reverse fixture at the London Stadium.
- Chelsea have lost their last three games at Stamford Bridge.
- West Ham are without a win in five Premier League away games
- Chelsea have conceded four goals in consecutive home league games.
- Chelsea have lost three of their last six games in all competitions.
- West Ham have lost five of their 11 most recent games in all competitions.
Sportsmole: Chelsea 1-1 West Ham