The winter solstice will be celebrated in west London by a visit from neighbours from the east side of town. Club historian Rick Glanvill and club statistician Paul Dutton prepare for the shortest day’s biggest match…
Chelsea have ushered in the football weekend plenty of times this season, but will have to wait till last knocking at 8pm on Monday for the visit of our eastern neighbours West Ham. The Blues began the weekend two points off the European places, but could slip to 10th by the time the players take the knee at an empty-again Stamford Bridge.
The six-day gap since the defeat at Wolves has provided the longest period of rest and preparation for months, and in the two successive defeats the players did look in need of the break. Travel will also be kept to minimum over the coming weeks as six of the Blues’ next seven matches will take place in the capital.
To mitigate the demands on his squad Frank Lampard has used 27 players so far this season, the most in the Premier League and two more than Liverpool, Everton and West Bromwich. Visiting coach David Moyes has involved six fewer of his squad members.
This cross-town derby is the final league game before Christmas, and Chelsea’s record in these pre-festive matches is an impressive one, with just two defeats over the past 30 seasons (winning 19 and drawing nine). The anomalies were Leeds in 1999 and Leicester City two years ago.
Chelsea are undefeated in the past five Premier League games at Stamford Bridge, scoring three or more goals in four of them.
— KEY STAT
Chelsea team news
There will be an extra frisson for Frank Lampard should his team return to winning ways on Monday against West Ham. He made his professional debut for the Hammers but was underrated there and became a global star at Stamford Bridge.
He has had more time this week to prepare for this west-east London derby than for months, and may make changes in pursuit of what is now a vital three points to stop the rot.
Hakim Ziyech, who has had such a positive impact as a wide attacker, limped out of the victory against the Leeds and has been sidelined since. Lampard has indicated he and Callum Hudson-Odoi could be fit to return to action at the Bridge on Monday.
The Moroccan’s role has been significant and he sets up great chances far more regularly than any team-mate, including wicked delivery from set-plays. At least Christian Pulisic looked sharp during the defeat by Wolverhampton, though mostly on the right rather than inverted on the left as he favours.
The underlying statistics are still looking good for the Blues, who have the best ‘expected goals difference’ in the top flight alongside Manchester City with +9. This is obtained by deducting the number of good chances against from good chances for.
However, the Blues’ efficiency has been lacking in the past two losses, perhaps partly though fatigue. Just three of the 13 attempts were on target at Wolves and three of the 10 at Everton. Against Leeds, 11 accurate shots out of 23 produced three goals, at Sevilla seven from 14 bagged four, and at Newcastle two goals came from three on target from a total of 14 attempts.
After the disappointing reverse at Wolves it may seem like the Blues are struggling to close out games when ahead, but only Liverpool (16), Everton (12) and Southampton and Tottenham (11) have taken the lead more times than Chelsea’s 10, and each of the others have conceded as many or more equalising goals. West Ham have an identical record to the west Londoners in that respect.
|Chelsea||10 leads||4 equalisers|
David Moyes has flipped between a back four and three this season, opting for a 4-2-3-1 in Wednesday’s 1-1 draw with Crystal Palace. His outstanding performer in the absence of attacking talisman Michail Antonio has been energetic ex-Hull winger Jarrod Bowen, though central midfielder Tomas Soucek has not been far behind, with two goals in three games.
The best maybe yet to come from loan signing from Brentford, Said Benrahma, who has been playing as the number 10 behind Sebastien Haller. Although the Ivory Coast centre-forward netted the dramatic equaliser against the Glaziers, that was after Manuel Lanzini had come on and the mercurial Benrahma had moved wide.
As that dogged comeback showed, Moyes has instilled in the Irons an ability to chisel out results, and with Vladimir Coufal at right-back they have feistiness alongside the height and organisation of central defence.
The Eastenders are strong in both boxes at set-plays, with Angelo Ogbonna and Soucek a big attacking threat (as well as the second-most penalised player by referees this season). Only Southampton have netted more times from a dead-ball delivery, and 15 per cent of the Hammers’ shots come from inside the six-yard area – the highest in the top flight. They have also struck the goal frame 10 times – the most by any club.
Only three players can claim more Premier League assists this season than left-back Aaron Cresswell, who carried on after appearing injured in midweek. He, and the other doubts Antonio, Bowen and centre-back Fabian Balbuena, are expected to return at the Bridge.
Derby day again
This is the first of three capital clashes for Chelsea over the next five league fixtures. Arsenal host the Blues on Boxing Day, then it is the first west London derby of the season at Fulham on Friday 15 January.
Chelsea topped the London-only table last season and are leading the way on points per game so far this campaign. The Irons have lost four of their last five derbies away from home.
|P||W||D||L||GD||points per game|
Sharing the load on goals
Last season only three squads could boast more Premier League goalscorers than the 16 from Chelsea – Arsenal, Liverpool and Newcastle with 17.
This campaign started with even better spread of goals/scorers, and more Chelsea players have found the net this season than any other club so far. Yet over the past four league matches the Blues have had just three marksmen. Olivier Giroud (2), Christian Pulisic and Kurt Zouma have hit the target.
|Chelsea||25 goals||13 different scorers|
How to watch Chelsea versus West Ham
This match will be covered live by Sky Sports in the UK. To find the relevant broadcaster where you are elsewhere, see the Premier League’s broadcast schedule pages.
Chelsea TV’s global available matchday shows – including early team news, exclusive interviews and analysis – are on the 5th Stand app, Facebook Live and the official YouTube channel.
History against Moyes?
David Moyes has lost 22 of his 40 meetings with Chelsea since February 2002 but is unbeaten against the Blues as the Hammers’ boss. It was not till his 24th such encounter in February 2010 that he first tasted victory, something that has happened four times in 16 attempts since, including two while in the claret-and-blue dugout. The Scot has, however, never won at Stamford Bridge with any of his clubs.
Nine on the bench
You will have heard that the number of substitutes on the bench at Premier League matches may increase to nine, but that does not mean a return to five replacements as Frank Lampard and others wanted.
The increase to nine will not happen yet either, as International Football Association Board first has to approve the trialling of players coming on for suspected concussion cases. If and when consent arrives, the number of regular substitutes permitted will remain at three.
Many happy returns, Jimmy
There was a special occasion this week for former Chelsea winger, Jimmy Smith, the Blues’ second oldest living player behind Tommy Docherty, who is 92. Sheffield-born Jimmy scored three times in 23 appearances under Willie Birrell and Ted Drake between 1951 and 1953, and celebrated his 90th birthday with a splendid cake – Chelsea-themed, of course.
Farewell, Tommy Ord
Former attacking midfielder Tommy Ord, who began his professional career at Chelsea but really made his name in the NASL with New York Cosmos, Rochester Lancers and Seattle Sounders, has died aged 68.
Drafted in for his Blues debut at home to Stoke in April 1973 after Chris Garland was ruled out, the 20-year-old scored in the 20th minute. ‘He has so much ability, and there are more youngsters where he came from,’ manager Dave Sexton said of the south-east Londoner.
Those were troubled times financially for the club and after a loan at Bristol City he was let go, emigrating to the United States to great effect. In 1975 Tommy switched from Lancers to Cosmos for a then US record fee, and two years later he played in Pele’s last competitive match. Among his other teams was Vancouver Whitecaps, whose theme song is an adaptation of ‘Blue Is The Colour’.
We send thoughts and condolences to his friends and family from all at Chelsea FC.
The latest matchday programme
With stadiums closed again for the time being, the only way to secure a copy of the official matchday programme is to order online, for £3.50 plus postage.
Merry Christmas to all our readers.
Premier League fixtures
Crystal Palace v Liverpool 12.30pm (BT Sport)
Southampton v Man City 3pm (Amazon Prime Video)
Everton v Arsenal 5.30pm (Sky Sports)
Newcastle v Fulham 8pm (Sky Sports)
Brighton v Sheffield Utd 12pm (Sky Sports)
Tottenham v Leicester 2.15pm (Sky Sports)
Man Utd v Leeds 4.30pm (Sky Sports)
West Brom v Aston Villa 7.15pm (BT Sport)
Burnley v Wolves 5.30pm (Sky Sports)
Chelsea v West Ham 8pm (Sky Sports)