West Ham v Chelsea: Solid Blues to keep Hammers at bay

Both West Ham and Chelsea are battling it out for a top-four finish and the capital rivals clash on Saturday evening at the London Stadium. Mark O'Haire shares his view...

Costly mistakes for West Ham

West Ham's hopes for a top-four finish suffered a major blow last weekend as the Hammers were felled 3-2 at Newcastle. David Moyes' troops had arrived in the north-east looking for a third consecutive Premier League success but were ultimately punished for a sluggish first half in which they conceded twice and had defender Craig Dawson sent off.

Prior to his dismissal Dawson's heavy touch allowed the Toon the chance to open the scoring, and following the red, Lukasz Fabianski compounded matters by dropping a simple catch to present a straightforward second. The visitors improved after the break but fell short despite setting up a thrilling finale thanks to goals from Issa Diop and Jesse Lingard.

Speaking post-match, Moyes said: "It was costly mistakes that can happen in football. We weren't playing badly - a couple of big mistakes gave Newcastle a leg up. At 2-2 I was hoping we would be able to see it out. I thought we played well - we made individual mistakes, got a sending off. The defeat wasn't because we played badly."

Chelsea distracted by ESL protests

Chelsea shared a goalless draw with Brighton on Tuesday to climb into the Champions Leagues places but the fixture was almost a side note to off-field events. With fans protesting the club's inclusion in the European Super League outside Stamford Bridge pre-match, the Blues hierarchy moved hastily to withdraw from the controversial competition.

Head coach Thomas Tuchel suggested the news came as an unwelcome distraction to he and his squad, saying: "I was affected so I think the players were affected. We talk of nothing else but Super League before the match. Nobody asked about the match before. We tried to create an atmosphere to win the game but could not."

The Blues created little with Brighton arguably enjoying the best chances late on with the FA Cup finalists producing a laboured effort that rarely put the guests under pressure. Chelsea managed only seven attempts at goal, failed to win a single corner and generated only 0.72 Expected Goals (xG) in a largely forgettable contest in the capital.

Blues fair favourites

West Ham have won three of their last five home Premier League games against Chelsea (W3-D1-L1), as many as in their previous 14 against the Blues. The Hammers also come into this contest unbeaten in their past five top-flight London derbies (W3-D2-L0), the club's best streak against capital rivals since a six-game sequence back in 2007.

West Ham 4.70 boast the division's second-best home record (W9-D4-L3) but come into this clash with numerous key injuries. David Moyes' men have conceded a minimum of 15 shots in eight of their past 10 outings and have posted just W2-D1-L6 against top-six teams this term, returning a rather feeble W1-D3-L7 when taking on the Big Six.

Chelsea 1.89 have tabled W7-D5-L1 in league action under Thomas Tuchel's charge, whilst also producing the Premier League's best Expected Goals (xG) ratio return across the most recent 12 tussles. The Blues have kept clean sheets in 15 of 20 encounters under the German, and remain unbeaten in all nine away days (W7-D2-L0) during Tuchel's reign.

Tuchel's troops to seal narrow success

West Ham have been good fun to follow this season, particularly at the London Stadium where 10/16 Premier League matches have featured Over 2.5 Goals 2.04, and the same figure have paid out in the Both Teams To Score column. However, it's hard to foresee another goal-filled game with Chelsea crossing the capital for Saturday's showdown.

The Blues' improvements from a defensive standpoint have been well documented under Thomas Tuchel and goals per-game figures have dropped drastically since Frank Lampard was removed. Only 1.85 goals have arrived on average across Premier League matches during the German's spell in charge with 10 of 13 delivering two goals or fewer.

With that in mind, I like the 2.44 available from the Sportsbook on the Bet Builder for Chelsea to succeed and Under 3.5 Goals. Only two of the visitors' 20 overall outings under Tuchel have breached this line and I suspect the Blues will negate West Ham's threats through sheer control of possession and tempo at the London Stadium.

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