Thomas Tuchel says “it is a joy to watch” West Ham and accepts Chelsea must be on top of their game if they are to pick up another London derby victory.
West Ham have collected just one point from their last three league matches, yet they still remain fourth heading into Saturday’s early kick-off at the London Stadium.
The Hammers finished sixth last season and look good value to challenge for a European spot again this term, which Tuchel puts down to several factors.
“They were almost in the top four last season. They were fighting all season for that,” he said. “They’re a very good team, have a very good coach and show huge solidarity.
“It’s always a joy to watch their games because they play with a lot of energy, a lot of positivity in what they are doing, their belief.
“It’s a tough match, a tough team to play against – but it’s also tough to play against us so it will be an exciting match. We need to be on our top level to have a chance to win.”
Chelsea have already defeated Crystal Palace, Arsenal, Tottenham and Brentford this term and will be looking to make it a clean sweep of derby wins this weekend.
West Ham have won three of their last six home league games against Chelsea, but the Blues did the double in this fixture last term and David Moyes is aware of the size of the task awaiting his side.
“Everybody playing against Chelsea is finding how difficult it is,” he said. “It’s very hard to find any weaknesses in their team. They’ve got a really strong squad so it will be difficult.
“I’ve got to say it’s a tough game, and the manager has done a really good job since he’s come in. He has won trophies and he’s been successful, which at Chelsea is the requirement. You have to come in and compete at the top.”
PLAYERS TO WATCH
West Ham – Michail Antonio
Antonio has gone three league games without a goal, coinciding with West Ham’s winless run. However, with five goals and five assists, the Jamaica international has been directly involved in 10 goals in his last 10 Premier League London derbies.
Chelsea – Romelu Lukaku
Lukaku is working his way back to full fitness following more than a month out injured, but he is in contention to start this game after making a couple of substitute appearances. The Belgian has scored nine league goals against West Ham – his best record against any Premier League side – and is looking to become the seventh player to score double figures against the Hammers in the competition.
KEY OPTA FACTS
– Chelsea did the league double over West Ham last season. They last won three in a row against them in the Premier League between March 2010 and April 2011.
– West Ham have lost two of their last four Premier League London derbies (W1 D1), as many as they had in their previous 10 such games (W4 D4). However, they won their last derby match in the competition against Spurs, last winning consecutive meetings with London clubs in January 2019 (a run of three).
– Chelsea have won their last seven away league London derbies, an all-time record in the top four tiers of English football. The Blues have kept six clean sheets in this run, with their only goal conceded coming via Christian Benteke in April.
– West Ham are winless in three Premier League games (D1 L2), last having a longer run without a win in their final four matches of 2020 (D3 L1).
– Chelsea have made 50 changes to their starting XI in the Premier League this season, the most by a side after 14 matches of a season since Manchester United in 2009-10 (also 14 games). The only team to make 50 earlier into a season was Man Utd again, in 2001-02 (12th game).