Conte’s Chelsea reign begins with London derby
The final Premier League game of the opening weekend sees Chelsea host West Ham United in what looks likely to be a highly entertaining clash on Monday.
Antonio Conte makes his first appearance as a Premier League manager, while there are a host of top-class players in line to make league debuts for their new clubs too.
This will be the last chance of the weekend for daily fantasy football players to pick teams, so let’s take a look in detail at this all-London match.
Goal Projections: Chelsea 1.81 West Ham 0.79
Team news & predicted starting line-ups for Chelsea vs West Ham
Conte has experimented with a number of different formations during pre-season and he is an admirer of the back three, which the Italian used with great success during his time at Juventus.
Chelsea’s Brazilian playmaker Oscar is hoping Conte opts for 4-3-3 though, with a 4-2-4 with pushed-up wingers the other system the Blues used throughout their pre-season preparations.
“I like playing in a 4-3-3 because I can score more goals, and also create more and tackle in midfield which I like to do to help the team,” Oscar told Chelsea’s official website.
West Ham are expected to use the 4-2-3-1 that brought them great success last season, with Payet given a free role in the three attacking midfielders behind the lone striker. Mark Noble and Cheikhou Kouyaté will sit in front of the back four, with width coming from the full-backs. However, they could go 4-3-3- here if Payet starts on the bench.
Andy Carroll is favourite to start up front on Monday, which may encourage a direct style of play.
Chelsea fantasy player to watch
Eden Hazard ended the previous Premier League campaign in good form and he also starred for Belgium at Euro 2016, with his performance against Hungary particularly impressive.
The Premier League’s Player of the Year two seasons ago, Hazard will have to be out to impress with a new manager in the Stamford Bridge dugout. Capable of inspirational performances,
Hazard could be a key fantasy football player in the coming campaign, with West Ham’s right-back Sam Byram likely to be in for a tough first match of the season on Monday.
Even when his form dipped dramatically last year, Hazard was able to provide five goals and four assists, but Chelsea supporters will be hoping he can return to his previous level.
In the 2014-15 Premier League season when Chelsea won the title, Hazard scored 14 goals and made 10 assists for the Blues, matching his performance from the previous campaign.
Chelsea team news
N’Golo Kanté should make his Chelsea debut after signing from champions Leicester City, with Conte to decide between Diego Costa and new arrival Michy Batshuayi for the lone frontman role.
Central defender Kurt Zouma is still recovering from a serious knee injury, so Gary Cahill and John Terry are likely to resume their partnership at the back.
Predicted starting line up for Chelsea (4-2-3-1)
West Ham fantasy player to watch
Payet may be a pretty obvious daily fantasy football selection, but he is the outstanding player in the West Ham team and he heads into the new Premier League campaign with his excellent reputation burnished by some fine individual performances at Euro 2016.
The playmaker started the tournament in terrific form, scoring in France’s first two matches at the finals, although he did not manage to show off his famous set-piece specialist abilities at the finals. Last year, which was his first season in English football, Payet recorded figures of nine goals and 13 assists, putting the 29-year-old in the running for Player of the Year awards.
However, Payet might well be a risk for this first game of the campaign as he was given time to recover from his exploits at Euro 2016 and he only recently returned to training with West Ham. Manager Slaven Bilić admits there is a doubt over Payet’s place in the team, although the canny Croatian may just be playing mind games with Chelsea ahead of the match.
“Dimitri Payet is one of the players [who may not start]. He came back very fit. Like every player he needs a pre-season but he came back very motivated,” Bilić told a news conference.
France playmaker Dimitri Payet is expected to be involved for the visitors despite returning late for pre-season training due to his exploits at Euro 2016, with new signing Andre Ayew also in contention to start for the Hammers.
West Ham team news
New arrivals Sofiane Feghouli and Håvard Nordtveit may start along with left-back Arthur Masuaku, who will go straight into the team as the usual first-choice full-back Aaron Cresswell has a long-term injury. Gökhan Töre and Manuel Lanzini are out.
Predicted West Ham starting line-up (4-3-3)
Can Chelsea get off to a flying to start against the Hammers?