West Ham v Chelsea: Tetchy Tuchel to take the win

Table-topping Chelsea make the short trip across London to face West Ham on Saturday lunchtime and Kevin Hatchard believes they'll pick up another win on the road...

Hammers have hit a rare bump in the road

For most of this season so far, things have been looking up for West Ham. They are in contention for European qualification in the league, they are already guaranteed to be group winners in the Europa League, and they will face their old foes Tottenham in the quarter-finals of the League Cup later this month. However, for the first time this term, boss David Moyes has some puzzles to solve.

West Ham conceded an 89th-minute leveller in a 1-1 draw with Brighton in midweek, and have now collected just a point from their last three league matches. They convincingly lost the Expected Goals battle against Wolves and Manchester City, and they were almost dead level with Brighton. According to Infogol, they haven't posted an Expected Goals For figure of above 1.5 since the 4-1 win at Aston Villa in late October.

It's still been an excellent start to the campaign given what is generally expected from the Hammers, but they won't want a dip to become a slump. An injury to key defender Angelo Ogbonna hasn't helped matters, and West Ham have now gone five league games without a clean sheet. Ogbonna remains on the sidelines, although there is good news with the potential return of full-back Aaron Cresswell.

Tuchel pulling no punches despite Blues' success

Win, lose or draw, if you don't hit the levels expected by Chelsea manager Thomas Tuchel, he lets you know. The former PSG and Borussia Dortmund boss was far from happy with the midweek win at Watford, describing his players as lucky, and lacking the correct attitude. He bemoaned his side's lack of control, and criticised their inability to match Watford physically.

Perhaps it's a good sign that the league-leading Blues could play so poorly, and yet still come away from Vicarage Road with all three points. The European champions have now won six of their last seven Premier League away games, and the other road trip saw them hold Liverpool to a draw at Anfield, despite playing a big chunk of the game with ten men. In 14 top-flight matches this term, they have leaked just six goals. It's the kind of consistency Chelsea will need to win the title (they are currently 4.3 in the Premier League Winner market), with both Manchester City and Liverpool playing so well.

Having watched on from the bench in the last two league games, Romelu Lukaku is raring to go now that he is back to full fitness. The imposing Belgian has scored three goals in nine Premier League appearances. Reece James missed out in midweek, and isn't 100% certain at this stage to be fit enough to feature, while Ben Chilwell, N'Golo Kante and Mateo Kovacic are all out. Having scored against Watford, Mason Mount will be keen to take on his best friend Declan Rice in the midfield battle.

Chelsea are rightful favourites

West Ham are a team that deserves respect, and their home win over Liverpool caught the eye. That said, the Hammers haven't played well in recent matches, and they face a Chelsea side that has been relentlessly efficient on the road. The Blues won home and away against West Ham last season, and I can see them edging a tight match here.

I'll happily back the visitors in the Match Odds market at 1.84, but you can boost that price to evens by using the Sportsbook's Bet Builder and throwing in an Under 4.5 Goals bet. Only one of Chelsea's league victories this term has featured more than four goals, and that was a 7-0 success against hapless Norwich City.

Lukaku worth a look

Romelu Lukaku is priced at 2.32 to find the net at any time, while Mount is also worth considering at a chunky 4.7, having found the net in midweek. The England international has at least one shot in eight of his 11 Premier League appearances, and he's averaging 1.02 shots on target per 90, with 41% of his goal attempts ending up on target.

Michail Antonio is the favourite for West Ham at 11/10, but he hasn't scored in any of his last six West Ham games, a run that stretches back to late October.

Rice to be iced for next game?

If you look at the stats regarding which teams are fouled the most, Chelsea are third in the list in the Premier League this season, and they have seen their opposition pick up 36 yellow cards in 14 PL matches, the highest figure in the division.

West Ham's Declan Rice has picked up four bookings already in the league, and is one short of a one-match ban. He has also been cautioned in the Europa League, and he was also shown a yellow on England duty against Hungary. That's six yellows in 21 games for club and country, and given that Chelsea will look to dominate possession, Rice may well be doing a fair bit of chasing.

I'll back Declan Rice to be shown a card at 4.2. You could also use the Odds Boost and back Rice and Jorginho to both be carded at 34.0. The Italian international has only picked up one yellow card this term, but it was a recent one against Manchester United.

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