Betting preview: West Ham vs Chelsea - Lukaku to sink dagger into Irons hearts

Premier League table-toppers Chelsea travel to wobbly West Ham for the battle of east meets west London. Can West Ham's old foe Romelu Lukaku return from his injury woes in goalscoring style?

Saturday's early kick-off is the District Line derby between West Ham and Chelsea, although technically the London Stadium is in Stratford which is on the Central Line, but let's not get into that now.

After a cracking start to the season, West Ham have hit a bit of a wobbly patch of late. Meanwhile, Chelsea were "lucky" to beat Watford in midweek according to manager Thomas Tuchel.

So with neither side at their best in their last matches, both could do with a big slap round the face from their respective managers. West Ham to stop slipping down the table, and Chelsea to keep Manchester City and Liverpool from lurching past them at the top of the table.

These London derbies are usually hotly contested affairs. There's no love lost between the two clubs and the fans hate each other even more. Expect fireworks.

Where, when and how to watch

When: Saturday, December 4, 12.30 GMT

Where: London Stadium

How to watch: BT Sport

Ref: Andre Marriner

Best bets for West Ham vs Chelsea

Chelsea to win 1-0 (11/2)

Draw at HT and Chelsea to win 7/2

Romelu Lukaku to score first 14/5

(All text odds correct at time of article publication, the ones in the fancy blue boxes are bang up-to-date)

On paper this looks like an easy away win for Chelsea, and the smart money is on the Blues easily increasing their lead at the top of the Premier League table.

But this is West Ham and it doesn't always go to plan, especially as the Irons are unbeaten at home in five.

A win for West Ham will guarantee they end the weekend in fourth, and at a healthy distance from Spurs, which is the most important thing.

Tuchel shuffled the pack against Watford and it didn't really work. A few familiar faces will reappear but with the injury list starting to grow in west London, don't be surprised if West Ham have a good swing at them...before stumbling to defeat in the last ten minutes.

Last 10 head-to-heads

West Ham wins: 4

Draws: 2

Chelsea wins: 4

West Ham goals: 9

Chelsea goals: 12

The West Ham wobble

West Ham's buzz after the 3-2 victory over Liverpool in early November was quickly nullified by the international break, and it appears to have knocked the club into a bit of a daze.

Back-to-back Premier League defeats to Wolves and Manchester, and a frustrating draw with Brighton is not the kind of form West Ham fans are currently used to. However, before David Moyes' return this was admittedly 'typical West Ham'.

After scoring a rare long-range effort against the USA for Jamaica, Michail Antonio hasn't found the back of the net for West Ham, and isn't his usual buccaneering self.

But it's not just him, the whole of West Ham's attack has been a bit out of sorts recently, not helped by being unable to put Brighton to bed, despite having 14 shots and creating ten good chances. Neal Maupay's overhead kick in the dying moments of the game was very old skool West Ham, and the draw would have felt like a defeat.

It doesn't bode well ahead of the Chelsea game, and it could be one of the few occasions when the Irons fail to find the net this season. So far only Southampton and Wolves have kept a league clean sheet against them.

West Ham are also missing the cool head of the injured Angelo Ogbonna at the back; Kurt Zouma and Craig Dawson are not gelling as quickly as Moyes would like. Doubts over Aaron Cresswell, following his collision with the post against City, could remove a big attacking weapon down the left-hand side.

Utility full-back Ben Johnson is a solid replacement, but the Chelsea defence won't need an A-level in psychology to know he has to keep cutting in on his right to provide a cross. So that threat can be swiftly dealt with.

Chelsea injury woes

The hamstring injury Trevoh Chalobah picked up against Watford adds another name to the already groaning Chelsea physio table…although they probably have about 30 physio tables.

Ben Chilwell won't be seen again until late February, possibly longer. Reece James, N'Golo Kante and Mateo Kovacic are doubts and Tuchel admitted that Wednesday night's win over with Watford was a battle with lots of knocks.

For this encounter, Chelsea might not be as cut-throat as they have been in recent weeks and it could take them a while to get going, especially against a West Ham side and crowd who will be fired up from minute one. Moyes and his backroom staff have not been happy recently, and a few players will have been given the proverbial rocket.

Expect an attritional battle with lots of lusty tackles, plenty of unnecessary rolling about on the deck, some close range face pointing, both managers waving their arms about in disbelief and a good few cards.

The Lukaku factor

Romelu Lukaku is on his way back to the Chelsea first team and that is the last thing West Ham want. He loves scoring against them.

Since the 2013/14 season, when the Belgian wore the blue of Everton, he has whacked nine Premier League goals past West Ham, in just 11 games, scoring in all but three matches.

To put the tin hat on it, he also scored in both the FA Cup games he has played against West Ham too.

Lukaku's last two appearances for Chelsea have been off the bench as Tuchel bids to get his hitman back up to match fitness after his ankle injury.

So him popping up in the last ten minutes to break West Ham hearts again appears to be a safe bet.

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