Chelsea v West Ham – Stamford Bridge at 20:00 live on Sky Sports 1
The first Monday night game of the season cannot be anymore appetising as it’s a London derby with under new management Chelsea hosting an exciting West Ham side at Stamford Bridge.
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Chelsea has acquired the services of former Italy boss Antonio Conte, who led his Italian nation to the quarterfinals of the European Championships in 2016. In pre-season they got off to a poor start, but have bounced back only losing two of their six matches. Their most recent friendly ending in a 4-2 win away to Werder Bremen; Eden Hazard and Oscar both scoring one and assisting another.
It hasn’t been a quiet transfer window for the west London club having captured former Leicester City midfielder N’Golo Kante and Michy Batsuayi for a combined total of £63 million, and 21 players returning from loan spells. While in the other direction Mohamed Salah joined Roma for £12 million.
After winning the title in 2014, 2015 was a year fans would want to forget as the Blues finished tenth in the league on 50 points and went through two managers. The players were very low on morale after such a dominating campaign.
Kurt Zouma and Marco Van Ginkel are both ruled out for Chelsea on Monday while John Mikel Obi is with the Nigerian squad, but there are no suspensions within the squad.
Upton Park is no more as this season West Ham will be playing their home games at the London Olympic Stadium. Before their first league match there though, Slaven Bilic will need to pick his best eleven considering they have only won one of their six pre-season friendlies, with their last match ending in a 3-2 defeat to Juventus; Andy Carroll scoring a brace.
The Hammers are into the next round of the Europa League, and have an away tie against Astra three days from their Monday fixture. Bilic has been busy in the transfer window bringing in the likes of Andre Ayew from Swansea City for £20 million as well as Sofiane Feghouli and Harvard Nordtveit on free transfers.
Apart from their business in the window, West Ham have four players out injured, including Manuel Lanzini who is out until early September and left-back Aaron Cresswell who is sidelined for three months. Furthermore, Bilic recently stated in a press conference that he has doubts Dimitri Payet will be fit for the Monday night game.
It was a fantastic campaign for Bilic last season finishing seventh in the league and qualifying for the Europa League, but now they will want to push on and improve more than ever. They have the squad, but it’s just whether they can manage with the amount of matches.
The last time these two sides met at Stamford Bridge the game finished 2-2; Fabregas scoring a brace. However, West Ham has only beaten Chelsea once from their last five meetings, and at the Bridge the Hammers have not beaten the Blues since 2002.
Difficult one to call. West Ham’s first away game of last season ended in a 2-0 win at the Emirates against Arsenal, and from what I have seen of this West Ham team is that they turn it up when they take on a bigger opposition. I want to say Chelsea will win, but I am torn.
Asian Handicap Betting Recommendation: Under 2.75 goals @ 1.84 with Pinnacle
Prices correct at time of writing.