Chelsea will have to wait until Monday for their chance to climb into the top four when they host West Ham at Stamford Bridge – a clash which represents a must-win for the Blues in their bid to qualify for the Champions League.
Maurizio Sarri’s side put Brighton to the sword on Wednesday night, with Callum Hudson-Odoi and Ruben Loftus-Cheek registering scintillating performances having been afforded a rare opportunity in the starting XI. However, West Ham certainly have more quality on the front foot to cause their hosts problems and so nothing short of the midweek performance standard shall suffice next time out.
The Hammers have endured a poor run of form and are fortunate not to be three games without a win after Huddersfield capitulated at the London Stadium in mid-March – Chelsea will be intent on piling further misery on their fellow Londoners and the appointment of Chris Kavanagh as referee makes that outcome seem all the more likely.
The 34-year-old’s statistics this season are fairly unremarkable in comparison to his fellow referees – he sat mid-table in terms of penalties, fouls per tackle, red cards and fouls given per game in the Premier League heading into the weekend, although one figure will make happy reading for the Blues.
Kavanagh, who has officiated 18 Premier League clashes this campaign, currently boasts a miniscule 16.7% away win bias, while his home win percentage is 55.6% – the odds, then, seem heavily stacked in Chelsea’s favour, with the man in black tending to side with the hosts.
Of the two Chelsea games Kavanagh has overseen this campaign, the Blues have won both, while the Hammers have won just once in the four games he has officiated, drawing twice and losing once. Will the hosts make it three out of three under a man who tends to lean towards the home side, meaning the visitors crash to another disappointing result?
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The clash should make for a good, fair game of football, with Kavanagh fairly willing to let play go on. But that will only serve as another boost to Chelsea, who have a number of players willing to ride tackles and continue on the attack. If the ref’s stats are anything to go by, the Irons have a monumental task ahead of them.