- Chelsea can extend lead atop the PL to 10 points
- Hammers going for third-straight home win vs. Chelsea
- Conte has lost 2 of his 3 away London derbies in the PL
This could get tasty.
West Ham United host Chelsea on Monday (Watch 3 p.m. ET on NBCSN and online via NBCSports.com) in a London derby at the London Stadium.
The Hammers would love nothing more than to put a sizable dent in Chelsea’s title bid as Antonio Conte‘s side could move 10 points clear of their closest rivals once again if they win. As for Slaven Bilic‘s side, they’ve been much improved since the turn of the year and have lost just once in their last seven PL outings.
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These two teams squared up on the opening weekend of the season with Chelsea securing a late 2-1 win thanks to Diego Costa‘s goal but the Hammers prevailed 2-1 in an EFL Cup clash at the London Stadium earlier this season. Tensions will be high.
In team news West Ham are hopeful Andy Carroll will return to action but Bilic’s side will be without the suspended Michail Antonio. Chelsea have no fresh injury worries with Cesc Fabregas again likely to start ahead of Nemanja Matic.
What they’re saying
West Ham’s Bilic on Andy Carroll’s impact: “It would mean a lot to have him back. We’ve done well without him in the last couple of games but I’m sure we would have done even better because he’s one of our key players. It would be great to have him on the pitch on Monday and it would also be a big blow if he somehow he doesn’t make. But as I said I am always trying to be optimistic, but this time it is not crazy optimistic it is realistic that he will be fit and available.”
Chelsea’s Conte on the threat of West Ham: “This game against West Ham, for us, is very important. In the last away game, the way we played against Burnley, we drew. They played very physical football against us. Maybe it can happen, the same, against West Ham on Monday. But for this reason we are preparing for this type of situation. It will be a really tough game.”
This will be a lively atmosphere as two London rivals collide under the floodlights. Chelsea have some pressure on them with both Tottenham and Man City winning this weekend and I expect the Hammers’ direct style to cause Conte’s boys some problems. 2-2.
Chelsea FC will have another Spanish international leading the front line, with Diego Costa likely on his way out of town.
The club announced that Alvaro Morata has completed a transfer from Real Madrid, signing a five-year contract at Stamford Bridge. The BBC reports the transfer fee at nearly $78 million.
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“I am so happy to be here,” Morata said in a statement. “It’s an incredible emotion to be part of this big club. I am looking to work hard, score as many goals as I can and to win as many trophies as possible.”
Morata emerged as an option to replace Costa after Romelu Lukaku decided on joining Manchester United over his former club Chelsea. Morata, who was a Manchester United target at first, then turned his sights on London after becoming disillusioned in Madrid, playing second-fiddle to Karim Benzema.
Despite not being first-choice up top, Morata scored 15 goals in 26 La Liga games and another three in the UEFA Champions League, which Real Madrid went on to win over Morata’s former club Juventus. Morata started for Juventus the last time the club had been in the Champions League final.
Despite being just 24, Morata is emerging as one of the world’s top forwards. He has nine goals in 19 games for the Spanish National Team and now is the right time for him to experience the challenge of the Premier League, where the games come thick and fast and the pace of the game is a step up from what he’s experienced in Spain and Italy.
However, the tactical knowledge he’s learned in both places should help him in England, where he can position himself between the opposing centerbacks.
Brazilian star Neymar isn’t keeping his future plans under wraps, at least when it comes to his current club teammates.
According to a report in French newspaper Le Parisien, Neymar has started telling his Barcelona teammates that he’s intends to join Paris Saint-Germain. Spanish publication Marca meanwhile is reporting that Neymar’s teammates are trying to persuade him to stay in Catalonia for the season.
The Le Parisien report adds that certain officials at Barcelona believe the transfer is imminent and are resigned to losing one of their stars this summer. The report also said that it was a “decisive step” that Neymar was on board with the deal, going along with his father and agent.
[ MORE: La Liga scores, schedule ]
Rumors intensified over the past few days as reports emerged in Spain that Neymar had agreed on a contract with PSG, and all that was awaiting was PSG exercising Neymar’s release clause, worth nearly $260 million (€222 million). On paper, PSG’s Qatari owners can probably afford that tremendous sum but it still remains to be seen whether PSG will see this move over the line.
Should Neymar move, it would break transfer records for the price of the deal as well as shock the world, as Neymar seemed settled and happy in Barcelona playing alongside the likes of fellow South Americans Lionel Messi and Luis Suarez.
Neymar and Barcelona are currently in New York training ahead of the club’s friendly match in the International Champions Cup against Juventus Saturday at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, N.J.
Liverpool has added to its defensive depth with the signing of one of Scotland’s bright young stars.
The club announced the signing of left back Andy Robertson for a reported $10.4 million, which can rise to $13 million with add-on clauses.
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Robertson made 33 appearances for Hull City last season in the Premier League, scoring a goal and assisting on two others. While Robertson is joining Liverpool, midfielder Kevin Stewart is heading the opposite direction, joining the Championship club for a reported $5.2 million.
Robertson will likely compete with Alberto Moreno for the starting left back position, and with Liverpool competing in the Premier League plus three cup competitions, depth at every position will be crucial when injuries and fatigue sets in.
The more things at FIFA change, the more they stay the same.
According to a bombshell report from The Guardian, FIFA president Gianni Infantino was under investigation by the FIFA Ethics Committee before the president disbanded the committee in May. The report states that Infantino spent around $1.16 million on his election campaign, despite declaring publicly he had only spent around $583,000 on flights around the world to meet with national FA presidents.
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The report claims Infantino was also being investigated by then committee chairman Cornel Borbely over whether he influenced the election of a new president in the Confederation of African Federations, or CAF.
FIFA rules state that presidential candidates must declare campaign expenditures publicly.
The latest bad press on FIFA follows the arrest of Spanish Football Federation president and UEFA vice president Angel Maria Villar and his son among other national and regional officials on charges of corruption and improper management.
Villar appeared in court on Thursday, and a judge denied he and his son bail.