Tonight, we will see the latest in a short line of London derbies to grace the London Stadium when Chelsea make the short trip across the capital. The home side will be hoping to repeat the success of the same fixture that took place in October when they won 2-1 in a victory against a very strong ‘Blues’ side – at the top of the Premier League. With nine teams already between the two sides, West Ham require victory to close that gap to just seven. It is a leap up to ninth in the table that could spring the completion to the new deal for Slaven Bilic, who’s leadership has been vital when steering the club away from the issues that the Payet-saga brought to light.
The Irons will be given a hefty boost by the addition of Andy Carroll who has battled with injury once again to get himself back into the squad, fighting for his starting place. The 6ft 3 target man has scored six times in his twelve outings in the Premier League this season making him the club’s second-highest goalscorer so far behind only fan favourite Michail Antonio (8), who serves a one-match ban for tonight’s fixture. Carroll, meanwhile, seems to be a talisman for West Ham against Chelsea in recent times, scoring 4 times in as many games – which will surely be a worrying sight for the ‘Blues’ back line.
The London Stadium is set to see another sold out home section, which will bring more of a boost to the fans as well as the players. The feel around the ground has become a lot more positive recently, the fans are back in full voice and are creating a fantastic atmosphere which can be heard right the way around the bowl. I know that there are still some things that need to be ironed out, but we can rest assured that the continued efforts of the board and the owners will see a massive improvement to the enjoyment of fans whether you are in attendance or not. Tonight’s fixture will be a key indicator to just how far we have come from our first Premier League game at the former Olympic venue.
Our squad may be bolstered by having Andy Carroll back in contention, but we are also set to see a large presence of youth team and young players amongst the substitutions for the match. Declan Rice is one of the many U23’s squad players who is performing well enough to be granted a seat on the bench for the senior squad – just a few days after receiving a new contract himself from manager Slaven Bilic. With all of this considered, tonight will be a fantastic adventure for both teams and a real show of character.