Chelsea v West Ham: Back both sides to net in Christmas capital clash

We should be set for a Monday night cracker in the final Premier League game before Christmas says Mike Norman, as Chelsea host West Ham looking to bounce back from two straight defeats...

Chelsea v West Ham
Monday 21 December, 20:00
Live on Sky Sports

Back-to-back defeats have halted Blues progress

It was all going swimmingly for Chelsea. A 17-game unbeaten run, a straightforward qualification to the Champions League knock-out stage, and within a win of going top of the Premier League table.

Then came the bump back down to earth for Frank Lampard's men. Just when the Blues were looking like genuine title contenders - then trading as the 6.0 third favourites in the Premier League Winner market - a surprise 1-0 defeat at Everton was followed by a 2-1 midweek loss at Wolves; back-to-back reversals against two teams that went into those clashes largely out of form.

Chelsea dropped to seventh in the table following the midweek fixtures, drifting out to 12.0 to win the title ahead of the weekend games.

It means Lampard is forced into a major rethink ahead of Monday's capital clash with West Ham. On the plus side his team will have had six days - seen as a bit of a luxury in the current season - to rest since the defeat at Wolves. On the negative side his two big-name summer signings, Kai Havertz and Timo Werner (more on him later), have been extremely disappointing of late and calls for them to be rested - a polite way of saying dropped - are mounting.

Hakim Ziyech and Callum Hudson-Odoi - two perfect candidates to replace Havertz and/or Werner - are back in training meaning Lampard has a fully fit squad to choose from, and I would wager it's extremely likely that we'll see at least a few changes from the XI that started at Molineux with the tough festive schedule ahead in mind.

A pattern emerging to Hammers' season

West Ham are enjoying a fine season, going into the weekend fixtures just four points behind second-place Tottenham following Wednesday's 1-1 draw with Crystal Palace.

David Moyes described their midweek performance as "flat" however, and that's not the first time that the Hammers haven't been at their best recently while picking up points. Just a few weeks ago against Aston Villa they were much the second best but somehow left the London Stadium with a 2-1 victory.

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What is becoming very apparent though is that Moyes' men know their level, and that beating or avoiding defeat against the non-Big Six teams is the key to their success. They've taken just two points from a possible 15 against Arsenal, Liverpool, Man City, Man Utd and Tottenham this season, while they've taken 19 of the last 21 available against everyone else.

That stat obviously doesn't bode well for the trip to Chelsea on Monday night, but West Ham can take huge confidence from the fact that they're on a run of scoring in 15 consecutive games (all competitions), which includes those five games against the other Big Six teams as well all seven away matches played this term.

Enhance the home win by backing goals at each end

Up until the last week or so I've been very impressed with Chelsea, and they go into this clash on a nine-game unbeaten run at Stamford Bridge

But I think the key to unlocking this game is West Ham.

Moyes' men have become very consistent this term in the fact that they don't win against Big Six teams while they pick up plenty of points against everyone else. Chelsea are a Big Six team, and a better one than Arsenal and Manchester United - who have both beat the Hammers this season - so we simply can't have the away win on our radar at 7.2.

Lampard's men are worthy favourites at 1.5 and I fancy they'll land the odds (the Draw can be backed at 5.0) with a slightly-rotated, freshened-up starting XI, though adding Goals to our wager will boost the home win price.

The Hammers have scored in every away game they've played this season including three at Leicester, three at Tottenham, and two at Leeds last time in a game where they could easily have scored more.

They've also scored against Arsenal, Liverpool, Man City and Man Utd this term, so I think we could count ourselves very unlucky if Monday night is the game they fire in a blank.

The popular Over 2.5 Goals option is trading at just 1.62, albeit understandably, while Over 3.5 Goals can be backed at 2.6, but instead take a chance on Chelsea/Yes at 2.8 in the Match Odds and Both team to Score market.

I'll also be very interested in a Chelsea win and goals-related Same Game Multi that includes Timo Werner if the former RB Leipzig prolific goalscorer starts in either a front three or as a lone striker.

Which leads me onto...

How do you solve a problem like Werner

In four seasons with Bundesliga outfit RB Leipzig the longest spell of games Timo Werner went without scoring - for club amd country - was five. At Chelsea he's currently on a nine-game scoreless run, and arguably his last meaningful contribution for the Blues was eight games ago when a superb run and assist wrapped up victory at Newcastle.

In Chelsea's recent back-to-back defeats Werner has been almost non existent, failing to make any impact whatsoever playing almost as a wide midfielder, from the right against Everton and then from the left against Wolves.

I don't think that it's any coincidence that the 24-year-old started his Chelsea career quite brightly, playing as part of a front three in the early weeks and then as the lone striker when having by far his best game for the club in scoring a brace against Southampton.

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The general opinion is that Werner can play anywhere in attack, but you sense that it can't be good for his confidence or his consistency that from one game to the next he doesn't know whether he'll be up front on his own, part of a front three, or playing on the left or right of an attacking midfield behind Tammy Abraham or Olivier Giroud.

Lampard needs to find Werner's most influential position and stick with it.

The German international has tremendous pace and movement, and as his goalscoring record in the Bundesliga suggests, he's a prolific finisher. So you want him up the field, getting into the box as much as possible.

What you don't want is Werner wide of an attacking midfield behind a lone striker, where his main emphasis then becomes to create goals rather than score them. With an out-and-out striker like Abraham, or a more static one like Giroud, already in the central striker role, Werner's chances of moving in there from wide become limited. I feel this is a big factor in why his goals have dried up.

Werner is 16/5 on the Betfair Sportsbook to score first, and 5/6 to score at anytime.

Opta Stat

When scoring at least once, Chelsea have lost just one of their last 38 Premier League home games (W27 D10), with that defeat coming at the hands of Liverpool last season (1-2). The Blues are unbeaten in their last 16 league games in which they've scored at Stamford Bridge (W14 D2).

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