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|What||West Ham United vs Chelsea|
|Where||London Stadium, London, England|
|When||Wednesday, 1 July 2020, 3.15 PM EST|
|How to watch||NBC Sports|
Chelsea has had an excellent week. In its most recent Premier League encounter, Frank Lampard’s side beat Manchester City 2-1 – a result that handed Liverpool its first title since 1990. Then, three days later, it overcame Leicester City 1-0 to reach the semi-finals of the FA Cup.
Chelsea will turn its attention back towards the top flight on Wednesday when it takes on West Ham United at the London Stadium. It suffered a shock defeat in the reverse fixture at Stamford Bridge, going down 1-0 in front of its own fans at the end of November. Chelsea has experienced some difficulties breaking down deep defenses this term, with that reverse against West Ham a case in point.
Yet the Blues are in a strong position as the finish line comes into view. It has won all three of its matches since the restart and has taken 13 points from the last 15 available in the Premier League stretching back to March. Off the field it has been boosted by the acquisition of RB Leipzig striker Timo Werner, who will join the club along with Hakim Ziyech ahead of next term.
Champions League qualification is the aim for Chelsea, and it could move up to third in the table depending on results this midweek. Wolverhampton Wanderers and Manchester United remain in close proximity, though, so Lampard must ensure his players are fully focused against a West Ham team battling for its Premier League life. Given the latter’s recent performances, this should not be too difficult an assignment for Chelsea.
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While confidence will be high among Chelsea’s players, it will be in short supply over at the London Stadium. West Ham has lost both of its Premier League games 2-0 since the restart, which means it has triumphed just once in its last 11 matches in the competition.
West Ham barely looked like scoring in recent meetings with Wolves and Tottenham Hotspur, mustering up a combined xG of 1.27. Chelsea will be content to control the game and should ease to victory, although we can expect a low-scoring affair.
Chelsea lies sixth in the table for home form this season, having failed to win half of its 16 matches at Stamford Bridge. It has been much more successful on the road, with only Liverpool and Manchester City having taken more points away from home than the Blues.
Some teams thrive at opposition grounds because they are built for the counter-attack. When playing at home – particularly when supporters are present – most sides feel obliged to play more positively than they would at another stadium. This in turn opens up space in behind the defense, which teams can exploit with fast breaks forward in moments of transition.
That has not been the case for Chelsea. The amount of possession it has is virtually the same in home and away games. The reason for its success on its travels is that opponents are rarely able to sit quite as deep as they might at Stamford Bridge, which means Chelsea does not have to be as intricate as it would if it was playing in west London.
That should once again be the case on Wednesday, although the visiting players must remain patient if they do not make a breakthrough early on.
West Ham only lost one of its first seven games of 2019/20, but there has been little to get excited about since then. Manuel Pellegrini was dismissed in December after a lengthy period of drift left the club one spot above the bottom three at the midway point of the campaign.
The choice of David Moyes as his replacement was a surprise. West Ham had dispensed of the Scot at the end of 2017/18 and he had not managed another team since then.
Moyes boldly stated at his unveiling that “there’s only two or three managers with a better Premier League win record… that’s what I do, I win” but he has triumphed just twice in 12 games. His tendency towards negativity is often counterproductive and has irked many West Ham supporters.
Indeed, we can expect the Hammers to stand off Chelsea and allow it to dominate possession at the London Stadium. That might bring short-term success – a goalless first half would not be a surprise – but Chelsea will surely find a way through at some point.
Lampard’s side has improved in that regard as the season has worn on, and it did well to retain its composure in the 2-1 defeat of Aston Villa last weekend, a game in which it conceded the first goal.
Take the Under option here – Chelsea will hold a West Ham team prone to negativity at arm’s length in Wednesday’s London derby.
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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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