West Ham v Chelsea
Monday 6 March, 20:00
Live on Sky Sports 1
It's been a mixed start to 2017 for the Hammers with three wins, two draws, and three defeats from their eight games played in all competitions.
The general consensus before a ball was kicked this season was that West Ham would struggle at times at their new home, the London Stadium, and that certainly seems to have been the case, with their eight games played this calendar year perhaps providing the best example.
From their five home matches Slaven Bilic's men have lost three, drawn one, and won only against a struggling Crystal Palace side, but away from home they've won two and drawn one of their three games played.
The worrying aspect of West Ham's current form is that those three home defeats all came against top six clubs; they failed to score a single goal and conceded 11! And their only other league game at the London Stadium this season against a team currently in the top six resulted in a 1-5 defeat to Arsenal.
Michail Antonio serves a one-game ban so will be unavailable for Monday night's game, though Andy Carroll is expected to return, either from the start or as a substitute, after recovering from a groin strain.
The Blues have been on a remarkable run of form ever since losing back-to-back league games at the end of September, and rumours that Antonio Conte was about to be sacked started circulating. From their last 20 league games they've won 17, drawn two, and lost just one, while they've also registered three straight wins in the FA Cup recently, scoring 10 goals in the process.
However, those two league draws I mention have come in their two most recent away games, while another point of note is that the clean sheets that Conte's men were churning out during their purple patch of form appear to have dried up; it's now four league games on the spin that Chelsea have failed to prevent the opposition from scoring.
Overall in 2017 the Blues have played five games on the road, winning just two of them, one against a bang out of form Leicester City side, the other against Championship strugglers Wolves in the FA Cup.
Eden Hazard received a knock in training during the week but is expected to be fit to start against the Hammers meaning Conte is very likely to go with the same starting XI that beat Swansea last weekend.
There isn't much juice in the price but it's hard to look beyond a Chelsea victory at 1.654/6 given their class and current form.
The Blues' most recent away form does offer some hope to those wanting to back West Ham at 6.05/1 however, but considering the Hammers will definitely be without one, and possible two, of their leading goalscorers, in addition to their dreadful home form against teams in the top six, then it's not a bet that I want to be having.
The Draw can be backed at 4.3100/30 but I'm strong on an away win here, even if the price doesn't exactly scream value.
Over/Under 2.5 Goals
The market favours 'overs' here, available to back at 1.910/11, and that looks a fair price.
Chelsea themselves have scored an average of 2.55 goals per game since losing to Tottenham at the start of January and they've also allowed the opposition to score at least once in five of the nine matches they've played in that time.
Six of West Ham's last seven matches have resulted in at least three goals being scored while the only one that didn't resulted in a 1-1 draw. In five of those seven matches at least four goals were scored.
Head-to-head wise, all of the last four meetings between West Ham and Chelsea have witnessed at least three goals, and all four resulted in both teams getting on the scoresheet.
Everything considered, Over 2.5 Goals looks a cracking bet at 1.910/11.
I was initially tempted by the price of 5/2 about both teams getting on the scoresheet and Chelsea winning the game, but for that to happen - and I still wouldn't put anyone off having the bet - we need at least three goals to be scored, which of course would land the best bet anyway.
But at the back of my mind is the fact that West Ham are without Antonio, while it has to be doubtful that Carroll will play the full 90 minutes, and every minute without those two in the side is a lot of goals taken out of this Hammers team.
I still think the bet has a cracking chance of landing given Chelsea's recent run of games without a clean sheet, but I'm happy to take the lesser price about an away win with over 2.5 goals being scored. Remember, Chelsea themselves have averaged 2.55 goals scored in their last nine matches.
Back Over 2.5 Goals @ 1.910/11 (best bet)
Back Chelsea Win/Over 2.5 Goals @ 7/5 (Sportsbook)