Speaking to the media ahead of the match, as quoted by Football.London, Chelsea boss Thomas Tuchel stated: “For Sunday, both of them [Kovacic and Rudiger] are not back, but there are no other new injuries.”
Rudiger missed Wednesday evening’s 4-2 defeat to Arsenal with a groin injury whilst Kovacic couldn’t manage 30 minutes in the Blues’ FA Cup semi-final victory over Crystal Palace last weekend, withdrawing with an ankle injury.
Of course, they can’t let their heads drop, however, Chelsea’s chances of finishing third in the Premier League look pretty secure whilst the Hammers will have plenty to play for.
The Irons will leapfrog Manchester United into sixth with a victory at Stamford Bridge this afternoon, with the gap between the two sides now just two points after Ralf Rangnick’s men lost 3-1 at Arsenal yesterday.
David Moyes’ men are very much in contention of securing another top-six finish, whilst qualification for Europe is also still possible with a Europa League triumph, with the east London side taking on Eintracht Frankfurt in the first leg of their semi-final on Thursday.
However, in order to guarantee European football via the league, there is now very little room for slip-ups for the Hammers, with Wolves very much in the picture too.
Both Rudiger and Kovacic are major absentees for the west London outfit, with the duo making 47 and 40 appearances this term for Tuchel’s side respectively. Rudiger, in particular, was a big absentee in midweek when Chelsea’s defence were error-prone and mistake-riddled on their way to a 4-2 defeat versus Arsenal.
West Ham must take confidence into their meeting with Chelsea from the fact that they ran out 3-2 victors in the reverse fixture whilst the Blues’ home form of late has been woeful, losing 3-1 to Real Madrid and 4-1 to Brentford in their last two matches at Stamford Bridge prior to the Arsenal crushing.
Moreover, the fact their London rivals will be without two key players will have Moyes buzzing.