Chelsea open their season today at Stamford Bridge against West Ham United. Chelsea will play their first competitive game under their manager Antonio Conte, who looks all set to give their new signings N’Golo Kantè and Michy Batshuayi. Blues haven’t lost any of their last 10 meetings against the Hammers, winning 7 of them with 3 draws and have not lost to them since 2002(2-3).
Stats that matter:
West Ham were unbeaten against Chelsea in last season (1W-1D); the first time that they achieved since 2002-03 season. Chelsea have won more points(51) on the opening weekend of the league than any other side. They are unbeaten in their last 13 opening day fixtures played at Stamford Bridge(W10-D3). Chelsea’s new boss, Antonio Conte has just lost 1 game in his last 30 league matches(W27, D2 L1).
Slaven Bilic, West Ham Manager has said that their star player Dimitri Payet will not feature in the game at any point, as he was delayed in the pre-season and is not fit enough.
Hammers fullback Aaron Creswell and Forward Manuel Lanzini are also out of the game due to injury woes, but their new signings Andre Ayew and Sofiane Feghouli could start the game.
Chelsea manager Antonio Conte wants his players to channel the spirit of champions Leicester City: “When you watch Leicester’s games you understand this great feeling between the players.
“Every player is ready to help his team-mate because he knows in another situation his team-mate will help him.
“It’s important to have this if you want to win. It’s important to have talented, fantastic players, but it’s important as well to create the right spirit.”
West Ham manager Slaven Bilic: “We have a good squad – we’ve kept most of the players and we’ve added some players too.
“We are expecting them to improve us – we’d expect that even without them because we have been together for a year now and had a good last season.
Predicted lineup for Chelsea (4-3-3) :
Ivanovic – Terry – Cahill – Azpilicueta
Matic – Kantè – Oscar
Hazard – Costa – Willian
Predicted lineup for West Ham (4-2-3-1) :
Byram – Ogbonna – Reid – Antonio
Noble – Kouyate
Valencia – Ayew – Feghouli
The Belgian international will be a key player for Conte and his attack, as he is a renowned match winner and the Hammers will have to keep him under check at all times, if they wish to get something out of the game. Hazard could be a key player for the Italian boss this term and will have a major role to play in the Blues’ success and in ensuring that they win titles.
Though Conte is a defence minded manager, he will be vary of the threat that Andy Caroll poses to his side, as the England international is a well built striker and can take long powerful shots. The former Newcastle and Liverpool man will make a nuisance of himself and it will be up to the defence of the Londoners to keep him quiet. Whether they can do so or not, remains to be seen.