West Ham United-Chelsea Preview
Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang can smash the "curse" of the Chelsea number nine shirt and become a Blues favourite, according to Thomas Tuchel.
Former Arsenal captain Aubameyang completed a return to the Premier League on Thursday when he left Barcelona in a deal worth £10.3 million (€12m), signing a two-year deal.
As well as winning over Chelsea fans who remember him as a recent opponent from a rival London side, Aubameyang also faces the task of living up to his shirt number.
A string of strikers have struggled to impress as Chelsea's number nine, including Alvaro Morata, Gonzalo Higuain, Radamel Falcao and Romelu Lukaku.
"Auba is in my point of view always happy to fight for something and to accept the challenge," Tuchel said ahead of Saturday's meeting with West Ham. "The more challenges he has, the better it is. If he wants to overcome the number nine curse or he wants to show someone in London that he's better than people think about him, the more the better, because he's up for that and he's happy.
"I know him as very focused and in general very open and a person with an open heart and happy to be on the pitch every day. This is what we wanted. He's a very positive influence on any group. He is up for any challenge and he's happy to be on the pitch and score goals."
West Ham were winless in their opening three games, but have taken four points from their last two matches after beating Aston Villa and drawing with Tottenham ahead of a busy transfer window for the club.
"I think we've tried to bring in players who we think and believe can try and keep us near the top end, that is the plan," manager David Moyes said. "We're trying to keep up with them, that is the job and hopefully, in time, we can get the players to show exactly how good they are."
Chelsea – Raheem Sterling
Sterling has scored three goals in his last two Premier League games for Chelsea – he has also been involved in more Premier League goals against West Ham than he has any other opponent (14 – eight goals, six assists).
West Ham – Tomas Soucek
Since his Premier League debut in February 2020, only Michail Antonio (29) and Jarrod Bowen (21) have more league goals for West Ham than Soucek (19). He is looking to become the third Czech player to score 20 Premier League goals, after Patrik Berger (38) and Milan Baros (28).
- Chelsea have won only six of their last 16 Premier League home games (D8 L2), having won six of their eight at Stamford Bridge before this. In this run they've dropped 13 points from leading positions, as many as they had in their previous 44 home league games.
- West Ham have scored just twice in their opening five Premier League matches this season, their fewest at this stage of a league season since 1994-95 (one). The Hammers have converted just 3.4% of their efforts at goal (2/59).
- Sterling has scored against West Ham at four different venues in the Premier League (Anfield, Upton Park, Etihad Stadium, London Stadium), and could become the fourth player to score against the Hammers at 5+ different grounds after Andrew Cole (six), Gary Speed (five) and James Beattie (five).
- West Ham have won three of their last six Premier League games against Chelsea (L3), as many as they had in their previous 26 (D6 L17).
- Chelsea have lost twice already in the Premier League this season (W2 D1) – only once in the history of the competition have the Blues lost as many as three of their first six matches, doing so in the 2015-16 campaign (W2 D1 L3).
Updated September 2, 2022