By 90Min
September 22, 2018

Chelsea travel across the capital to face West Ham this weekend, hoping to keep their perfect Premier League record alive.

Finishing in a disappointing fifth position last season, the Blues have enlisted a new coach in Maurizio Sarri. Famed for his fast, expansive and attacking play, the Italian hopes to lead Chelsea back into Europe's biggest club tournament.

However, current eyes may be on a domestic challenge, as some quality opening results have them sitting pretty. Chelsea currently site top of the table, having won all of their opening five games.

Dan Istitene/GettyImages

As for West Ham, an important win away to Everton last week got the monkey off their back as they finally won their first game.

The Irons have come out victorious in a few of the recent clashes between these two, and will hope to spring another surprise. With all that being said, here's what we can expect to see on Sunday: 


Classic Encounter


Chelsea 2-2 West Ham (Premier League, March 2016)

This frenetic match up came only two and a half years ago, when West Ham United's home ground was still the Old Boleyn. Inspired by Frenchman Dimitri Payet, the Irons were remarkably on the cusp of Champions League qualification.

However, a run of scandalous refereeing calls put pay to any hope of joining Europe's elite, with this match the worst of all. At a time when Chelsea were still recovering from a disastrous start to the season under Jose Mourinho, Guus Hiddink had come in to steady their ship.

The affair in SW6 first saw Argentine maestro Manu Lanzini whip an a beautiful free-kick, before Cesc Fabregas replied on the stroke of half time with a delightful set-piece of his own. Andy Carroll looked to have won it for the Hammers, before late drama changed this game's outcome.

Paul Gilham/GettyImages

Running through to face Adrian, a tangle between Ruben Loftus-Cheek and Michail Antonio resulted in the Blues being awarded a penalty by Bobby Madley. Replays showed that not only did the Chelsea man actually trip over his own foot, but he did so outside the box.

A horrendous decision that robbed West Ham of the chance of climbing into fourth position, Fabregas calmly stepped up to smash in his second of the day and tie the scores with seconds remaining.


Key Battle


Eden Hazard vs. Pablo Zabaleta


With Chelsea's key man in stupendous form, his influence will no doubt decide who takes home three points this weekend. 

Entrusted with minimising his impact this Sunday will be Pablo Zabaleta. The former Man City man has Premier League experience in abundance, and has come up against the diminutive winger on more than one occasion. 

Shaun Botterill/GettyImages

Trying to beat the ageing legs of West Ham's full back with pace and trickery, Hazard will have his fingers crossed that teammate Olivier Giroud can provide him with some quality knock downs to chase. Hoping to influence the game from in behind, no.10 is likely to have his best chances when managing to spin Zabaleta left and right. 


Team News


West Ham's biggest concern is whether star man Marko Arnautovic will be fit enough to start the game. Removed just after the hour mark at Goodison Park with a knee issue, it appears as if he will be a game time decision.

Elsewhere, Javier 'Chicharito' Hernandez is missing due to a virus, and Jack Wilshere is set for a six week spell on the sidelines after ankle surgery. Carroll, Lanzini and Winston Reid are all still a long way from fitness, but have returned to first team training.

Stu Forster/GettyImages

As for the Blues, it appears the arm injury sustained by Pedro on Thursday isn't as serious as originally feared. Amongst others, Cesar Azpilicueta and David Luiz are expected to return after a midweek rest.

Thankfully for Maurizio Sarri, injuries are few and far between. Only forgotten man Marco van Ginkel is properly out, as Fabregas' brief minutes in Greece have seen him fully recover from a niggling knock. 


Potential West Ham Lineup (4-1-4-1): Fabianksi; Zabaleta, Diop, Balbuena, Masuaku; Rice; YarmolenkoNoble, Obiang, Anderson; Arnautovic.


Potential Chelsea Lineup (4-3-3): Arrizabalaga; Azpilicueta, Rudiger, Luiz, AlonsoKanteKovacic, Jorginho; Willian, Giroud, Hazard.


Prediction


While Chelsea have failed to win at the London Stadium in previous years, this time they come in with scintillating form. 'Sarri-ball' is in full effect, and if the Blues can improve defensively, then a title charge could be had.

West Ham may have won against Everton last week, but Hazard's brilliance in this new system should bring them back down to earth with a heavy bump. 


Prediction: West Ham 1-3 Chelsea

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