25/1 Chelsea to beat West Ham
CHELSEA vs WEST HAM BETTING PREVIEW
Chelsea have lost five of their last seven Premier League ties, a run that have all-but ended Chelsea's hopes of Champions League qualification and put Antonio Conte's future in further doubt. Their recent decline continued last weekend as they crashed to a 3-1 loss to Tottenham. The Blues first loss at home to Spurs since 1990 has left them firmly in fifth place in the table, eight points behind their London rivals and five ahead of Arsenal directly below them, with seven matches left to play. The only way the Italian manager can salvage the season now is by winning the FA Cup, with a semi-final against Southampton to come in a fortnight. As to direct matches, Chelsea are unbeaten against West Ham at Stamford Bridge in their last 11 Premier League encounters.
Thibaut Courtois, Pedro and Davide Zappacosta are all back in contention after missing last time out. Olivier Giroud and Tiemoue Bakayoko will push for starts agains the Hammers but they might have to settle for another spot on the bench as Alvaro Morata and Cesc Fabregas are likely to get the nod over them. Even if he is passed fit, Pedro is unlikely to replace either Willian or Eden Hazard in the attacking midfield spots in the usual 3-4-2-1 system. Davide Zappacosta remains doubtful, meanign that Victor Moses and Marcos Alonso will retain their starting berth as wing backs. Conte has been tipped to blood youngsters in his remaining games, including 17-year-old forward Callum Hudson-Odoi.
West Ham bounced back from three consecutive defeats by beating Southampton 3-0 last time out and now are five points clear of the bottom three. They suffered a 3-0 home loss to Burnley prior to the international break, which included pitch invasions and mass protests aimed at the board. Their away form is shaky, having lost the last three games on the travels and conceded at least 3 goals in each of those fixtures. As to direct encounters, the Hammers won the reverse fixture in December with an early Marko Arnautovic goal.
Michail Antonio will miss the rest of the season with a hamstring injury while Manuel Lanzini is a major doubt. That means Edimilson Fernandes could feature behind the lone striker Marko Arnautovic, though Chicharito is back and in contention. Declan Rice is set to continue in the three-man defence alongside Angelo Ogbonna and Aaron Cresswell, with Pablo Zabaleta and Arthur Masuaku playing as wing backs. Andy Carroll will miss out once again, while Winston Reid, Sam Byram and Pedro Obiang are long-term absentees.
25/1 Chelsea to beat West Ham
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CHELSEA vs WEST HAM STARTING LINEUPS Chelsea (3-4-2-1): Courtois; Azpilicueta, Christensen, Rudiger; M.Alonso, Kantè, Fabregas, Moses; Willian, Hazard; Morata
West Ham (3-4-2-1): Hart; Rice, Ogbonna, Cresswell; Zabaleta, Masuaku, Kouyatè, Noble; Joao Mario, Lanzini; Arnautovic
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