The local rivals head into the clash at Boleyn Ground in contrasting moods, with West Ham flying high in fourth and Premier League holders climbing to 12th in the league standings. The start of the season has been so disappointing for Chelsea that the Blues had every right to celebrate the 2-0 home win over Aston Villa, a result that would normally go down as just another in the long line of comfortable triumphs at Stamford Bridge.
Looking at the current crop of West Ham players, we cannot really say that the squad is much stronger the one that ended the previous campaign mere nine points above the relegation zone. However, such has been the impact of new manager Slaven Bilic that the Hammers are now able to look down on their more illustrious rivals, having climbed to fourth in the Premier League table. Summer recruits Dimitri Payet and Manuel Lanzini have had an important role to play in some excellent results, but everybody can see that the likes of Jenkinson, Tomkins, Kouyate and Noble have raised their performances as well. While they were eliminated from the Capital One Cup by Leicester City, the Hammers have been thoroughly impressive in the Premier League of late, defeating the likes of Liverpool, Newcastle, Manchester City and Crystal Palace while sharing spoils with Norwich and Sunderland. The attack-minded style of play has been the main reason for the record of 12 goals conceded in 9 games, but nobody is worried by the stat now that West Ham boast the second best attack in the elite division. Alex Song and Steven Reid continue to miss out, whereas Victor Moses is ineligible to face his parent club.
Nobody knows what has happened to the team that were so dominant in the previous Premier League campaign, and it would appear as though Jose Mourinho cannot find the cure for some disappointing performances. Having himself been under extreme pressure, the manager has turned against his own players, surprisingly criticising the likes of Hazard, Matic and Ivanovic, among others, thus giving the media additional ammo in their war against the Portuguese. With his key men clearly struggling for form, Mourinho has tried introducing some new players to the side, but the lack of strength in depth is proving another major issue. The manager clearly lacks proper replacement for Diego Costa as well as most other important footballers, so he has no choice but to wait for the first team regulars to starting playing to their potential. The good news is that the Blues have finally kept two clean sheets in a row, but that record will be put to a serious test against red-hot West Ham, who have scored in each of their ten games this term. There have been no fresh injury worries for the visitors, but Thibaut Courtois and Branislav Ivanovic remain in the treatment room.
Having already defeated the likes of Arsenal, Man City and Liverpool, West Ham will be looking to claim the fourth major scalp and it is highly unlikely they will discard their positive approach. Meanwhile, Chelsea are showing signs of improvement and they should be able to score at least one goal at Boleyn Ground.
Verdict: Both teams to score
Best Odds: 5/8
Bookmaker: William Hill
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