Maurizio Sarri’s team face a weekend trip across the capital in a bid to keep their 100% record alive.
Chelsea won’t have it easy however, as they’ve failed to pick up a single win in their last three visits to the London Stadium. Their opponents, West Ham, will be buoyant after a victory away to Everton last time out, as star players start to hit form.
Atop of the Premier League table on goal difference, one slip up from the Blues will allow Liverpool to take control. Needing big characters in this game, 50-50s must be won all around the pitch.
Here’s three key battles that could decide Sunday’s clash:
1. Eden Hazard vs. Pablo Zabaleta
You’ll find it difficult to identify a better winger in the Premier League than Eden Hazard. When in full flow, the Belgian is near impossible to deal with. Speed, trickery and an outstanding dribbling ability, Chelsea’s no.10 is a true savant of the game.
On Sunday, he’ll be up against one of the most experienced full backs in the league. Pablo Zabaleta may be in the twilight years of his career, but previous achievements speak for themselves. A mainstay of Manchester City’s side for nine seasons, the Argentine was there for that fateful day in May 2012.
This scrap should be decided by Hazard’s movement, and if he can find a way to beat Zabaleta for pace. With the Irons likely adopting two deep lying banks of four, Maurizio Sarri’s main man will need to be patient when choosing his moment to strike.
2. N’Golo Kante vs. Felipe Anderson
One of the nicest and most talented footballers around, N’Golo Kante is adored on the Stamford Bridge terraces. An integral piece of France’s all conquering World Cup side, the diminutive midfielder won the ball more times than anybody else in the tournament. This week, his sights will be firmly set on a certain Brazilian.
Felipe Anderson has been brought in by the Irons from Lazio, and he wasn’t cheap. Smashing their transfer record, the east London club spent a total figure of £42m on the attacking midfielder. Gifted with an ability to drop opponents, his quick feet could prove a problem for Kante.
Likely starting out on the left flank, Anderson will drift in centrally as Mark Noble drops deep to help out Pedro Obiang and Declan Rice. Whether he decides to drift away from Chelsea’s water carrier or take him head on, the trickery of West Ham’s no.8 is to be on show throughout.
3. Olivier Giroud vs. Issa Diop
With Alvaro Morata only netting once in four Premier League games, it’s likely Maurizio Sarri moves on with Olivier Giroud.
Tasked with neutralising the Frenchman’s impact is compatriot Issa Diop. Transferring from Toulouse this summer, the 21-year-old is to have a properly physical duel this Sunday. Hoping to be helped out by defensive partner Fabian Balbuena, Diop will have seen Giroud prove himself in Russia this summer.
As the forward isn’t best known for his goal scoring prowess, it will be an interesting battle to see how Chelsea try and breach West Ham’s back line. Whether they wish for Giroud to out-muscle his opponent at set pieces or tire them out for a late game surge, an unwavering focus will be needed from Manuel Pellegrini’s troops.