?West Ham and Chelsea come into this lunchtime London derby with both sides eager to secure maximum points, but for very different reasons.
The Hammers are on a barren run of form, and are without a victory in the league since the final day of September. David Moyes has tasted defeat three times in his first four games in charge, with a late goal seeing his side slip to defeat at Man City last time out.
Chelsea come into the fixture on a high, after securing six wins in their last seven Premier League outings.
Derby matches between these two often provide drama and entertainment galore, with bragging rights on the line for both sets of fans. Here are three key battles that could decide the outcome of this one…
3. Pablo Zabaleta vs Marcos Alonso
Marcos Alonso has been a revelation for Chelsea since Antonio Conte first deployed the increasingly popular wing-backs system last season.
The former Sunderland loanee provides genuine width for the Blues, and provides a significant attacking threat when Chelsea look to break. The Spaniard has netted 9 times in 46 league appearances for the champions, netting at an impressive one in five game ratio.
Pablo Zabaleta will have his hands full trying to keep the Chelsea man in check. The former Man City stalwart has a poor disciplinary record this season, accumulating six yellow cards already this season. He will need to use all of his experience in order to try and nullify the threat that Alonso is expected to present.
2. Manuel Lanzini vs N’Golo Kante
West Ham’s main attacking threat comes in the shape of diminutive midfielder Manuel Lanzini. The Argentine maestro has become the creative focal point for the Hammers ever since Dimitri Payet’s departure last January.
The midfielder has had a relatively quiet start to the season, which perhaps reflects the struggles that West Ham have experienced so far this season. That said, Lanzini will act as chief creator for Moyes’ men and they will look to bring him into the game at every opportunity.
Standing in his way will be PFA Player of the Year, N’Golo Kante. The Frenchman has earned universal praise for his combative midfield performances, and his presence in the heart of Chelsea’s midfield is a reassuring sight for all Blues fans.
The 26-year old is renowned for his ability to break up play, and Antonio Conte will look to him to control the game from the outset.
1. Winston Reid vs Eden Hazard
West Ham will be hoping key defender Winston Reid is fit enough to start Saturday’s game, as they look for a way to curb the talents of the mercurial Eden Hazard.
The Kiwi defender was absent last time out, but is expected to take his place in the starting line-up on Saturday. Manager David Moyes will be looking to Reid to try and subdue the in-form Belgian, with the defenders concentration and commitment to the cause likely to be given a stern test.
Eden Hazard has been in scintillating form recently, firing the Blues to success with standout performances both domestically, and in Europe. The Belgian has scored five league goals this season, but more importantly, has been the focal point of Chelsea’s sparkling form.
Though Chelsea will also threaten through the likes of Cesc Fabregas and Alvaro Morata, the Hammers attention will focus heavily on Hazard as he is likely to drop into pockets of space as he attempts to run at the brittle West Ham defence.