Last updated April 27th, 2021
Two teams competing for a top-four Premier League finish and Champions League football meet when West Ham host Chelsea at the London Stadium on Saturday (5.30pm; TV: Live on Sky Sports).
Only goal difference currently separates Chelsea in fourth from West Ham in fifth. Leicester are still in range of both in third, while behind they have Liverpool breathing down their necks. With just six matches left to play, it is race that will go right down to the wire.
Chelsea would have expected to be in this position come this stage of the season, but it is most surprising to see West Ham still very much in the mix. They finished in 16th last season, just five points removed from the bottom three and having been considered potential relegation candidates for the majority of the campaign.
David Moyes took charge of the club for the second time in December 2019 and has masterminded this most swift of ascensions to the upper reaches of the table. West Ham’s haul of 55 points means they have already taken more points than in all but one of their last 12 top-flight seasons. With six matches remaining, they are still in range of besting their 62-point haul from 2015-16, the only time in the last 10 years they have even finished in the top 10.
The Hammers could have been in an even stronger position coming into this match had they not fallen to what amounted to a surprising 2-3 defeat away to Newcastle last weekend. Their hosts were two goals up at the interval, with an Issa Diop own goal sending them on their way, and although West Ham fought back to 2-2 thanks to a goal at the right end from Diop and a Jesse Lingard penalty, Newcastle snatched a late winner to leave them pointless.
If Moyes’ side can at least avoid defeat on Saturday, they’d be in a very decent position to nevertheless claim a top-four place, with four of their remaining fixtures against sides currently positioned with the bottom seven. Chelsea have to traverse a tougher run in and are also still involved in the Champions League, with a semi-final first leg against Real Madrid to come next Tuesday.
Chelsea do, though, have a very impressive record in all competitions since Thomas Tuchel replaced Frank Lampard as head coach in late January. Only Manchester City have taken more points than their tally of 26 in the 13 matches since he took charge, while Tuchel has also overseen the club’s progression to the last four of the Champions League and the final of the FA Cup, the latter achieved at City’s expense in Saturday’s semi-final.
Tuchel has significantly tightened up the defence. Chelsea have conceded just nine times in 20 matches in all competitions since this arrival. While they have undoubtedly lost some of their attacking verve, the balance is that results have improved significantly, steering a campaign back on course that had appeared to be drifting under Lampard.
It hasn’t all been perfect. There was the aberration of a 2-5 home defeat to prime relegation candidates West Bromwich Albion, while Tuchel’s side were also unable to find a way past Brighton in a relatively drab 0-0 draw at Stamford Bridge on Monday. Both sides created one very good chance without converting, Chelsea’s falling to Kai Havertz, and so the spoils were shared.
With Manchester City and Leicester among their five remaining fixtures, Chelsea don’t have all that much margin for error on Saturday. They will undoubtedly also have one eye on their midweek Champions League semi-final against Real Madrid, which could give West Ham a decent chance of victory, even with the likely absence of England midfielder Declan Rice through injury.
West Ham were 3-2 winners in last season’s equivalent fixture and they are worth backing to repeat the trick and so give themselves a better than fighting chance of claiming an unlikely top-four finish.
Our West Ham vs Chelsea preview suggest this betting tip on this EPL match:
- Bet on West Ham to win.
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