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West Ham looked to have established themselves as a genuine top-four contender after their 3-2 victory over Liverpool at the start of November, but their results in the meantime have left a lot to be desired.
The Hammers have collected just one point from their last three league games since, losing successive games against Wolves and Manchester City – before squandering a late lead against Brighton on Wednesday night. Their mini-slump could be set to continue on Saturday afternoon against a Chelsea outfit that is unbeaten on the road in the Premier League this term.
Thomas Tuchel’s side have won each of their last five away games in all competitions and have only dropped points in one league away game – a 1-1 draw at Anfield in August when Reece James was sent off after 45 minutes.
Chelsea look well placed to launch a first title challenge since 2017 and should sweep a stumbling West Ham aside on Saturday.
Saturday 12.30pm – West Ham v Chelsea
BT Sport 1
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For all of the excellence of The Blues this season, they have been somewhat slow to get going in matches, especially recently. They have been level at half-time in six of their 14 league outings to date, and in 10 of their last 22 games in all competitions.
Four of their seven Premier League away ties have been level at the break, while they have scored 18 of their 33 league goals after the interval. Tuchel’s side have specialised in second half strikes this campaign, netting 26 of their 46 goals in all competitions after the break.
Meanwhile, West Ham have been level at the break in seven of their 14 games to date, and are bound to try and shore up their defence in an attempt to avoid a third defeat in four league games. Saturday’s early kick-off is likely to start off as a cagey affair, with Chelsea eventually seizing the initiative and picking their London rivals off later on.
Chelsea may have conceded in each of their last two games, but they boast by far the best defensive record in the league this season. The Blues have let in just six goals in 14 Premier League games, keeping an impressive eight clean sheets – while they have not conceded in three consecutive league games this season. They have kept 19 clean sheets in 33 league matches under Tuchel and have only conceded 19 times in the league since the German took over at the end of January.
The Hammers have offered precious little in front of goal over the last three games, although they were unfortunate not to score a second against Brighton on Wednesday. However, they struggled to trouble either Wolves or City and could encounter similar problems against a defensively stubborn Blues outfit on Saturday.
Chelsea are an unusual club when it comes to goalscorers. The Blues have scored 29 goals in the league this season – the third-most of any club in the division – but their joint-top scorers have scored just four goals apiece.
Chelsea’s attacking threat is so spread out that it makes it incredibly difficult to accurately predict who will score their goals, with Reece James and Mason Mount locked on four goals apiece in the Premier League.
It was the same story last season, but the signing of Romelu Lukaku was supposed to address that issue and make Chelsea virtually unstoppable. That has not come to pass, however, with Lukaku failing to score in the league since scoring three in his first three games after making his return to Stamford Bridge.
The Belgian striker has been sidelined with injury during that spell, but his form was poor before he was forced to miss out. With Lukaku failing to deliver so far, the buck is once again passed on to Chelsea’s midfielders and defenders. Mason Mount registered a goal and an assist in a Man Of The Match performance at Watford, so there is no better candidate to find the back of the net on Saturday afternoon.
Mount’s goal on Wednesday was just the second game in which he has scored in a Premier League game this season after he put three past Norwich in October. However, a return to net-finding form after struggling with fitness over the past month will have done him the world of good and the young England midfielder can cause damage at the London Stadium.
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