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Manchester City beating West Ham 2-1 was one of the shocks of the season.
The slumping Everton had just smashed David Moyes’ side 4-0, and Manchester City have been converting even a minute defensive weakness into a shed load of goals.
City’s attacking football has not been quite as stunning of late. Chances are not being created every 12 seconds, which must be quite a frustration for their fans.
It was still an achievement of sorts for Moyes.
When they lost 4-0 to Everton, the chance of him surviving to Christmas suddenly decreased. Then, heading to the Etihad Stadium with an injury-riddled squad, something resembling a fantastic opening partnership was probable.
A solid 50 not out for Sergio Aguero with a nice 30 for Leroy Sane, or something like that.
The late goal was a heartbreaker, and left the Irons in the bottom three. They still have the worst defence in the league, and their next two matches are against Chelsea and Arsenal. It looks bleak, yeah, but their performance has to be a positive for Moyes.
Meltdown after Everton felt painfully inevitable. Halting such a crisis was key. Moyes did that.
Having had a week to prepare, the Hammers now face Chelsea. A Chelsea side way off Manchester City in creativity, and with a defence that will give you opportunities.
Antonio Conte’s side was also at full strength in midweek, when they played out an end-to-end clash with Atletico Madrid. Fatigue has already hurt the Blues this season, it be an issue at the London Stadium on Saturday lunchtime.
Chelsea should be easier to stop than City were. Eden Hazard is in – yet another – rich vein of form, but away from the Belgian there is a dependence on Cesc Fabregas to create.
The Blues are limited. Stop those two and it will quickly reduce to aerial balls towards Alvaro Morata. West Ham, you would hope, can deal with that. Close space for that pair, and West Ham could quickly frustrate their visitors.
West Ham did a lot right against City, and, though they will still be without plenty of first-teamers, they can go a long way against Chelsea by replicating that display.
Moyes will need to be sharper on making changes – some of his players were almost unable to move by the time City scored their second – but there is reason for optimism.
I am not suggesting you all pile your money on West Ham to win this weekend, however. Chelsea are still strong favourites, and Hazard is in the sort of form where it’s pretty hard to see how you can really stop him.
West Ham do, though, have a chance that was not expected after their Goodison nightmare. It would, of course, be so very West Ham to be 3-0 down inside 15 minutes.
Written by Sam Cox
Follow Sam on Twitter @SamRCox_
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