West Ham vs Chelsea – Key Player Battles
Finally a trophy to show for our brilliant performances in the past few months and hopefully a lot more to come!
Coming off our Capital One Cup win, we will be back in action once again in the Premier League, in a span of just three days, as we travel to Boleyn Ground to lineup against Big Sam’s West Ham. Yeah, I know, a London Derby that the fans hate the most!
West Ham have been in a bit of bother for the past few games. The Hammers started the season brilliantly but have lost their way in the last few weeks. But, coming up against Sam Allardyce, you can expect a gritty, possibly “19th-century football” in a hope to salvage a point against the League leaders, one of the few reasons why I hate playing our London neighbours.
As far as Chelsea are concerned, after that criminal draw against Burnley, which we deserved to win and should have won, if not for Martin Atkinson and his brilliant referring, Liverpool did us a favor on the weekend by defeating Manchester City 2-1 which means, we are still 5 points clear at the top, with a game in hand too! A win tomorrow, and we are back with the lead of 8 points and the PL trophy all but assured! Bring on the 19th-century football!
Without wasting further time, let’s get on with the key player battles now to understand which players are most possibly set to influence the outcome of this game.
DIAFRA SAKHO vs JOHN TERRY
Possibly the best player for West Ham this season, the Senegalese has been in brilliant form for the Hammers so far, scoring 9 goals in all competitions, most by any player in the side.
Playing alongside Enner Valencia up top, the Striker/Winger loves to cut from the right wing with his blistering pace and good physical play as West Ham lines up in a 4-3-1-2 formation. The main strength of Sakho is obviously his pace up front but using the space to get behind the opposition defenders and being in the right place at the right time is what makes him the biggest threat for the Blues’ when he starts at Boleyn Ground tomorrow.
As per Allardyce:
“I think where Nicolas Anelka, Michael Owen and Mark Viduka are, he will eventually be (as good as them). The way he is going he will get there. He is learning all the time. He is a terrific lad with a great attitude and he has the desire to be successful as a footballer and goalscorer.”
That’s a lot of praise for someone who has just started his career in PL but if you watch him play, you can argue he probably deserves all the praise he gets. Coming up against Sakho would be our very own John Terry, who is just coming off a brilliant Man Of the Match performance against Spurs. As a Blues fan, we hope that our Captain continues his amazing form against Sakho and Co. to nullify their threat upfront. Either way, an interesting battle to watch out for!
EDEN HAZARD vs CARL JENKINSON
In the absence of Matic and Mikel, we are expected to line up in a 4-3-3 once again, just like we did against Spurs, meaning, a lot would rely on Eden Hazard to provide that width from the Left Wing, if West Ham does decide to defend from the deep.
With Cesar Azpilicueta expected to start ahead of Filipe Luis at the Left Back spot to counter the threat of Sakho to some extent, providing width from the wings could be a problem for the Blues and this is where the Belgian comes into the picture. Eden Hazard has obviously been in a brilliant touch for the Blues this season and has performed consistently all season long. With Zouma expected to start in the DM role, a lot of our attacking threat would rely on Eden Hazard providing his usual “magic moments” by destroying Carl Jenkinson on the wings and doing some other “Hazardesque” things to cause terror in the opposition defense.
It would probably be impossible for Carl Jenkinson to stop Hazard on his run and he would definitely require the help of Alex Song by double teaming up against the Belgian. Hazard would definitely be up for this making this battle a must to watch out for! And oh! it would probably bode well with us too if the Referee, for once, tries to control the endless fouls committed on the Belgian!
WINSTON REID vs DIEGO COSTA
Diego Costa has been slightly off color for the Blues after coming back from his 3-match-ban. The Spaniard has struggled to impact the game in any way with his link-up plays or the daunting runs while he has also been short of his goalscoring touch.
Although, things did changed a bit in the League Cup final when the Spaniard scored our second goal of the night to secure the trophy for the Blues which should give him enough confidence (not that he would be short of it anyway!) to be at his very best when he starts at Boleyn Ground tomorrow.
West Ham are known for their physical tactics and coming up against us, they would definitely look to sit deep and absorb the pressure, which means a lot of hustle and tussle can be expected between Diego Costa and the West Ham defense when they come up against each other tomorrow. Sounds like a mouth-watering prospect, right? Definitely for me, it does! A tough night awaits for Winston Reid and Co. making this battle a gritty one to watch out for!
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Edited By: Ankur Bhatt