Are we serious? You bet. Okay, so Chelsea, on the face of it, should walk this one. They are fifth, West Ham are still haunted by the spectre of relegation. The bookmakers reckon it is a mismatch.
What is confusing about this contest is the motivation and mindset for each team respectively. Chelsea’s hopes of usurping Tottenham from fourth position look to be over after the 3-1 humbling at home last time out. They trail by eight points, a margin that could have been two had they beaten their rivals. That is hard to take.
Chelsea have had an okay season. They remain in the hunt for the FA Cup. They were outclassed at the death stages of the Champions League by Barcelona. No disgrace. But Antonio Conte has been a man under pressure from the word ‘go’.
Indeed, their season has been characterised by odd performances just when it looked as though they were going to kick on. Naturally, this had led to accusations of players not being motivated enough. See the 4-1 hammering against Watford that followed the 3-0 beating at home by Bournemouth.
West Ham are a basket case of a club. Who knows how they will perform. In their last fixture against Southampton at home they were expected to struggle. The previous outing their campaign had reached a nadir with a 3-0 reverse at home to Burnley with ‘fans’ invading the pitch. Yet they trounced the Saints 3-0 on the back of three straight losses.
Have they found some fire at last? Is it possible that they could view this as a good time to play Chelsea and be really up for the battle?
It is possible. Instead of backing them to take the points it could be shrewd to play the handicap. William Hill go +260 about the Hammers +1 – not bad if you suspect, as we do, that Chelsea are feeling vulnerable.
We will keep goals on our side, too, though just in case Chelsea rip into David Moyes’ team. After all West Ham do leak goals on the road. They have lost their last three by more than one goal. Over 3.5 goals comes in at +150 with some green listed bookmakers.