The Blues reclaimed their place in the top four of the table with a goalless stalemate against Brighton & Hove Albion on Tuesday, while West Ham are now in fifth but only behind their upcoming opponents on goal difference.
Arsenal loanee Joe Willock was the thorn in Tottenham Hotspur’s side earlier this month, and the Newcastle United man once again came off the bench to sink another capital outfit as West Ham suffered a painful 3-2 defeat to the Magpies last Saturday.
The tie seemed destined to end with the spoils shared following goals from Issa Diop at both ends of the pitch, as well as a Joelinton strike and Jesse Lingard’s penalty, but Willock directed a powerful header past Lukasz Fabianski in a major blow to West Ham’s Champions League aspirations.
David Moyes’s surprise package remain firmly in contention for a top-four finish, but defeat at St James’ Park gave Chelsea the opportunity to leapfrog them in the table – a chance which they took – and the Blues’ superior goal difference means that West Ham sit fifth with six games of the season remaining.
Moyes has now seen his side ship at least two goals in their last four Premier League matches – a statistic that will become all the more worrying now that Craig Dawson is suspended for this game – but home is where the heart is for the Hammers, as they have taken 13 points from the last 15 on offer at the London Stadium.
Only Manchester City can boast a better home record than West Ham in the 2020-21 campaign, and Moyes’s side are also unbeaten in their last five London derbies at home before this pivotal showdown with Chelsea, who will be aiming to end a tumultuous week in perfect fashion.
Petr Cech becoming embroiled in fan protests outside Stamford Bridge symbolised football’s response to the proposed European Super League – which Chelsea were one of the founding members of – but during their game with Brighton on Tuesday evening, news of the Premier League’s Big Six dropping out one by one slowly filtered through to jubilant supporters.
Affairs on the pitch were much duller, however, as neither Chelsea nor Brighton – reduced to 10 men in the dying minutes after Ben White was sent off – could find a way through at Stamford Bridge, as Thomas Tuchel’s fatigued outfit were unable to build on their recent FA Cup and Champions League successes.
However, that point was enough to see the Blues break back into the top four of the table, and Leicester City – who have a game in hand – are only one point clear of Chelsea in third before they face West Bromwich Albion on Thursday, although the Foxes will certainly be expected to steer clear in that fixture.
That infamous home thrashing at the hands West Brom was an early blot on Tuchel’s notebook, but the former Borussia Dortmund manager is yet to lose away from home since succeeding Frank Lampard and will be aiming to stretch his unbeaten run on the road to 10 matches across all competitions this weekend.
Tuchel could become the first Chelsea manager in history to navigate his first 10 away games unbeaten on Saturday, and the Blues eased to a 3-0 triumph over West Ham back in December, during which the forgotten man Tammy Abraham netted twice.