‘Not going to play their strongest team’: Paul Merson predicts who's going to win between Chelsea and West Ham

Paul Merson has looked into his crystal ball to see the outcome of Chelsea’s crucial London derby against West Ham United this weekend.

Writing for Sportskeeda, the former Arsenal midfielder predicted a 2-0 victory for Thomas Tuchel’s men at Stamford Bridge on Sunday.

Merson might’ve needed to think twice about writing that scoreline, following Wednesday’s showdown in the capital.

Arsenal take Chelsea to town

Chelsea hosted another of their close city rivals in mid-week, welcoming the Gunners to their stadium on a night of huge significance for the away side.

Arsenal were desperate to end a run of three straight Premier League defeats, that had seen them fall behind in the race for European qualification.

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Tuchel’s camp also required the win to halt a trio of set-backs on home soil; they hadn’t lost four in a row since 1993.

Sadly for the Blues, they dragged up the unwanted record by putting in a performance worthy of such a troubled title.

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Mistakes on the pitch and errors in the team selection combined to hand Arsenal an impressive 4-2 triumph.

The Champions League holders do not have long to lick their wounds, however, with West Ham lurking around the corner.

Although, David Moyes’ focus surely cannot solely be on Chelsea right now.

This result is not nailed on for the Hammers

Next Thursday, the Hammers play the first leg of their Europa League semi-final against Eintracht Frankfurt.

Whilst beating the Blues would be brilliant, the feeling of being one step closer to a European final will be even sweeter.

Hence why Merson handed Chelsea the three points, as he believed they are set to face a weakened West Ham XI.

“West Ham have a massive football match on Thursday night – probably their biggest game in the past several years. They have a great opportunity to make history here and aren’t getting into the Premier League top four anyway,” he said.

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“Chelsea will be in trouble if they don’t sell the club soon. If no one puts money into the club, they won’t be able to buy new players next season. Chelsea’s going to have a very hard time next season if a deal isn’t done quickly.

“West Ham are not going to play their strongest team this weekend and that could play right into Chelsea’s hands. Chelsea have a good squad at their disposal and should be able to win this game.”

It is true Chelsea have depth to their troop, but it was highlighted in the Arsenal game that there are still major holes that need patching up.

Without Antonio Rudiger, Thiago Silva, Mateo Kovacic and Kai Havertz, the spine of the side is a relatively soft one.

Rudiger and Kovacic might both miss the West Ham encounter, a problem that Tuchel could do without right now.

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Nathaniel is a football journalist who graduated from the University of Derby. He has worked at Burton Albion as part of their media team for two years. Nathaniel produces regular articles for the club’s official website and match-day programme. He covered the 2018 U20 Women’s World Cup in Brittany and has reported from grounds ranging from non-league up to the Premier League.