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Defeat to improving Chelsea will not halt West Ham’s progress

23 Oct | BY Betway | MIN READ TIME |
Defeat to improving Chelsea will not halt West Ham’s progress

The impressive resolve shown against Crystal Palace will have to be repeated if the Hammers are to overcome Jose Mourinho's side

When does an impressive start to the season become something more significant?

West Ham must be nearing that stage after last week’s dogged victory at Crystal Palace propelled the club to fourth in the Premier League.

The Hammers, of course, were fifth last December before tumbling down the table at the turn of the year.

But this campaign – even after only nine games – feels different.

Having Slaven Bilic, a former player who has affection for the club, as manager instead of the unloved Sam Allardyce is significant.

So, too, is the team’s style and substance.

And while the victories at Arsenal, Liverpool and Manchester City were superb, the resolve shown to come from behind to steal a point at Sunderland and take all three at Crystal Palace was just as impressive.

Where the club can improve, though, is at Upton Park.

Bilic’s side have won only one of four matches in East London, and suffered their only two defeats in the league.

And, last year at the old stadium or not, it would be regrettable if their season was undermined because of too many dropped points at home.

Chelsea are the visitors on Saturday and the respective form of both clubs means that record can be bettered.

Not having to undertake a 3,000-mile round trip to the Ukraine in midweek will also help.

Because even if advances in sport science and aerospace engineering have softened the impact of such exertions, being able to prepare for this weekend’s fixture at their Chadwell Heath training ground while the Blues scrapped for a point against Dynamo Kiev is to the Hammers’ advantage.

Chelsea have lost two of their four top-flight away fixtures this season and Bilic’s side are 11/4 to make that three by beating them for the first time since December 2012.

But they will have to do so without on-loan Victor Moses, who is ineligible to face his parent club.

Dimitri Payet will be relied upon to supply the creativity, then, although that is a responsibility he relishes.

The French playmaker has scored five times in his first nine matches – including a deft finish against Palace last weekend – and is 9/1 to do so first against Jose Mourinho’s side.

Manuel Lanzini, meanwhile, deserves recognition for adapting to English football so quickly after playing in the United Arab Emirates.

The 21-year-old Argentine produced his best performance for the club at Selhurst Park – netting his second top-flight goal in the process – and is 7/2 to score at any time.

Chelsea, meanwhile, are 12th on 11 points – six behind the Hammers – after labouring to victory over Aston Villa last weekend.

The goalless draw in Kiev was the club’s second successive clean sheet, though, and that should reassure Mourinho.

As will his record at Upton Park, which stands at four wins from four across his two spells at Stamford Bridge.

Chelsea are 10/11 to make that five on Saturday, while a repeat of last year’s 1-0 result is 15/2.

Eden Hazard grabbed the winner that day and is 7/4 to score at any time – but the player more likely to this time around is Diego Costa, who appeared to be at his fittest and sharpest against Villa.

The striker scored and made one and is 4/1 to notch the game’s opening goal this weekend.

If Costa’s underperforming team-mates can follow his improvement, then a Chelsea performance befitting of their status as title holders will follow.

It could conceivably be against West Ham.

But that causing the Hammers to fall away would be more of a surprise than the start which has pushed them into the Champions League places.

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