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Chelsea are struggling to get going and this season is quickly becoming a write-off
West Ham United are still involved in the relegation battle despite the abundance of quality
The evidence of the campaign to date suggests goals could be at a premium here
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Neither West Ham United nor Chelsea has been prolific this season, and at least one of the two teams could draw a blank in this game.
Back both teams not to score in this London derby on Saturday. (-120)
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The most remarkable moments in Chelsea’s season have come off the pitch. Last summer, in the club’s first transfer window under new owner Todd Boehly, the Blues splashed out a record £272m on new players - more than any other club had ever spent in a single window.
It was not a one-off. Chelsea went even bigger in January, sanctioning deals worth a collective £323m to bolster Graham Potter’s squad. This high-spending strategy has stunned the soccer world and left many to wonder whether Chelsea will fall foul of either UEFA’s or the Premier League’s Financial Fair Play regulations.
In the modern game, transfers are sometimes celebrated more than wins. But make no mistake: Chelsea have taken an enormous gamble by spending so much money in such a short space of time.
Not only do they risk running into trouble with the authorities, but they have potentially restricted themselves in upcoming windows, where money may be tighter as a consequence of their recent excess. Meanwhile, Graham Potter faces the unenviable task of trying to get a new-look squad to gel midway through a season.
Chelsea fans have had little to cheer on the pitch in 2022/23. Ahead of Saturday’s trip to the London Stadium, they sit ninth in the standings. A 10-point deficit to the top four means the west Londoners are highly unlikely to be playing in the Champions League next season.
Chelsea are out of the EFL Cup and the FA Cup. They remain in this year’s edition of the Champions League, but that is pretty much the only thing they still have to play for. Potter should use the next few months to try and make a cohesive unit out of his expensively assembled squad.
After Leeds United parted company with Jesse Marsch on Monday, five of the six bottom clubs in the Premier League have now changed their manager this season. The exception is West Ham United, who are still led by David Moyes despite a disappointing campaign so far.
In fairness to Moyes, he has plenty of credit in the bank. The Scot fulfilled his remit of keeping West Ham up in 2019/20 after he was appointed just before the turn of the year. He then led the club to sixth- and seventh-place finishes in the next two seasons, while the Hammers made it all the way to the semi-finals of the Europa League last time out.
Despite that, Moyes appeared to be on the brink of the sack a few weeks ago. After a 1-0 defeat by Wolverhampton Wanderers in the middle of January, West Ham found themselves in the relegation zone having taken just one point from the last 21 available.
A 2-0 triumph over Everton was vital in keeping Moyes in a job, and West Ham followed that win up with a 1-1 draw with Champions League-chasing Newcastle United last time out.
However, the Hammers are by no means out of the woods yet. They are just one point clear of the drop zone and have Chelsea and Tottenham Hotspur as their next two opponents.
West Ham have plenty of quality within their squad and it would be a surprise if they finished in the bottom three, but Moyes’ men must not fall into the trap of believing they are too good to go down.
It is no secret that Chelsea’s principal problem this season has been a failure to find the back of the net often enough. The Blues drew a blank in a 0-0 stalemate against Fulham last time out, which means they have now failed to score in exactly half of their last 12 Premier League outings.
Only seven sides in the division have scored fewer goals than Chelsea. West Ham are one of them. The Hammers rank 16th for goals scored this term. The underlying statistics suggest they have been a little unfortunate, having notched eight fewer goals than they ‘should’ have based on expected goals data.
Yet a failure to take your chances is not entirely down to bad fortune, with West Ham guilty of wastefulness in and around the penalty area so far this campaign. Unless they are able to rectify that shortcoming, Moyes’ side will struggle to pull clear of the relegation dogfight.
With all that in mind, this is unlikely to be a high-scoring encounter. Under 2.5 goals is not priced particularly favorably, though, so instead put your money on both teams not to score in this London derby on Saturday.
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Teams: West Ham United vs Chelsea
Location: London Stadium, London, England
Date and Time: Sunday 11 February 2023, 7:30 AM EST
How to Watch: USA Network, fuboTV
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Greg Lea is a freelance soccer journalist from London. He is the former editor of The Set Pieces, and has contributed to the Guardian, FourFourTwo, and ESPN. A Crystal Palace fan, he is a long-time subscriber to the belief that it's the taking part that counts. Email: [email protected]More info on Greg Lea
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