Hello and Welcome to Sports Mole
's live text coverage of the Premier League meeting between Chelsea
and West Ham United
at Stamford Bridge.
The Blues can leapfrog Arsenal and Tottenham Hotspur into third place this evening should they pick up all three points against London rivals West Ham.
United are unbeaten in their last three top-flight games against today's opponents - not since last between March 1998 and March 2000 have they gone on a longer run. Victory for the Hammers today will lift them back into contention for a seventh-placed finish.
CHELSEA TEAM NEWS!
STARTING XI: Kepa; Azpilicueta, Rudiger, Luiz, Emerson; Kante, Jorginho, Loftus-Cheek; Hudson-Odoi, Hazard, Higuain
SUBS: Caballero, Barkley, Pedro, Kovacic, Giroud, Willian, Christensen
WEST HAM TEAM NEWS!
STARTING XI: Fabianski; Fredericks, Balbuena, Ogbonna, Cresswell; Rice, Noble; Arnautovic, Lanzini, Anderson; Hernandez
SUBS: Adrian, Snodgrass, Obiang, Nasri, Diop, Masuaku, Perez
The big team news as far as Chelsea are concerned is that Hudson-Odoi retains his place in the forward line, while Higuain and Rudiger replace Giroud and Christensen. West Ham make five changes from their last outing, with Anderson and Noble among those to return. The visitors get us underway!
West Ham are setting out in a 4-2-3-1 formation this evening; Hernandez is spearheading the side, sitting in front of Arnautovic, Lanzini and Anderson. Chelsea, in their usual 4-3-3, are seeing plenty of the ball in the early stages.
Chelsea are trying to get Hudson-Odoi on the ball as often as they can, which is a wise tactic. Kante works the ball to Hazard on the opposite flank, who plays it back into the centre to Loftus-Cheek. A poor touch from the midfielder lets him down.
Higuain steps out of the frontline and spreads the ball across to Hazard, but the Argentinian striker is flagged for offside. Chelsea have had 71% of the ball so far, with West Ham pretty content to sit back.
Sarri's side are getting nowhere fast in the opening 10 minutes. For all their possession, it is all pretty pedestrian and West Ham are not having to work that hard to keep their opponents at arm's length. Jorginho sends a pass straight out of play.
YELLOW CARD! Hazard links up with Higuain and then tries to burst clear of Ogbonna. The West Ham defender feels that he has no choice but to drag his opponent to the ground, earning himself the first booking of the contest.
SHOT! Emerson wins the right to take on the free kick from 25 yards. The ball is sent up and over the wall, but it does not have enough dip - or indeed precision - to find the top corner. Fabianski watches it sail wide of the target.
Arnautovic has a cross blocked and is then unable to get the better of two Chelsea player when trying to cut into the box. That was a rare attacking move for the Hammers, who have mainly focused on remaining compact in the opening quarter of an hour.
SHOT! This is very good play from Kante. His first touch takes him away from Ogbonna and all of a sudden he has time to get a shot away from 20 yards. The attempt is pretty poor, though, failing to keep it down as Fabianski again watches is sail over.
That spin and shot from Kante is the closest either side has come to making a breakthrough so far in a quiet opening quarter to the game. There is a stoppage in play now as Rudiger catches teammate Luiz in the face with his arm.
Luiz looks a little shaken following that blow to the face from his own teammate but he is OK to continue.
CHANCE! This is a lovely, flowing move from Chelsea. After some quick passing Kante backheels the ball into the path of Azpilicueta, who wants one touch too many in front of goal. Balbuena is able to get across to clear the ball before the full-back can shoot.
GOAL! CHELSEA 1-0 WEST HAM (EDEN HAZARD)
If Chelsea have any sense they will offer Hazard every penny he is after to keep him away from Real Madrid. For a player known for his world-class goals, this is one of the best of the lot. The Belgian forward picks up the ball 40 yards from goal after knocking it past Noble, races towards the box, takes it between Balbuena and Ogbonna and then tucks it past Fabianski with a left-foot finish. Nobody could get a touch to the ball!
Hazard has been directly involved in 10 goals in his last 10 Premier League games at Stamford Bridge (five goals, five assists). That really was a special individual goal from the Belgian, who will be a major loss to Chelsea if he does depart this summer.
OFF THE POST! Hazard nearly sets up a second goal for his side, minutes after opening the scoring in style. The forward finds Higuain with a nice pass and his teammate picks out the post from a tight angle - Fabianski looked to have got a touch. Rice is there to clear away as West Ham hold on.
PENALTY APPEAL! Arnautovic takes a bit of a risk by barging into Hazard in the box. Hazard, surprisingly, did not really appeal the penalty. The referee says shoulder-to-shoulder; the replay suggests a little more than that. Chelsea are closing in on a second here.
Loftus-Cheek has now had a hand in four goals in his last three Premier League games for Chelsea. Sarri's decision to go with the academy graduates, with Hudson-Odoi also retaining his place, is paying off. The Blues are constantly getting in behind, but this latest cross from the right is gathered by Fabianski.
CHANCE! West Ham are really holding on now. Hazard is causing all sorts of problems down the left, with Arnautovic not looking all that comfortable when helping out in a defensive sense. The Belgian picks out Hudson-Odoi, whose shot is blocked by Cresswell.
Pellegrini could do with the half-time whistle now so that he can think about changing formation. Chelsea are dominating the contest and are good value for a second goal. However, this was also the case against Everton last month and they went on to lose.
Andersen works the ball on to his left foot but his shot is blocked. West Ham have managed to keep hold of the ball over the last minute or so, relieving some of the pressure on their defenders.
Hazard is constantly getting on the ball. Emerson slips it into his path down the left but his floated delivery is plucked out of the air by Fabianski. Not sure what Pellegrini has got planned for half time but he needs to change something.
SAVE! Hudson-Odoi runs at Ogbonna, who does well to prevent the youngster from cutting inside. Rather than picking out Hazard alongside him, Hudson-Odoi thumps an angled shot on target and Fabianski does well to help it over the crossbar.
Fabianski makes a mess of the corner, unable to get to the cross as Higuain blocks his path, but he manages to collect at the second attempt. Half time is now just a couple of minutes away.
CLOSE! Chelsea really should have a second. Kante is in all sorts of space in the penalty area and picks out Higuain just outside the six-yard box. The striker opts against taking it first time and that proves the wrong choice, as Fredericks puts his body on the line to block the shot.
HALF TIME: CHELSEA 1-0 WEST HAM
Chelsea take a one-goal lead into half time through an incredible Hazard goal 24 minutes in. The Blues have dominated right from the off and will wonder how they do not have another goal to show for their efforts in the opening 45 minutes. West Ham need to improve in the second period.
Chelsea started to make their dominance count with a little under a quarter of the match played as N'Golo Kante, finding all sorts of space high up the pitch, spun away from Angelo Ogbonna and fired over the bar. That attempt was off target but Eden Hazard
lit up the match with his sublime solo goal, taking the ball past Mark Noble around 35 yards from goal, knocking it between Fabian Balbuena and Ogbonna in the final third and then finishing off the move with a left-foot finish into the bottom corner of the net.
With West Ham perhaps still wondering what had just happened, Hazard turned provider as he picked out Gonzalo Higuain, who in turn found the post via a touch off Lukasz Fabianski. Hazard then had a penalty shout turned down when barged into by Marko Arnautovic, with the referee feeling it was a simple shoulder-to-shoulder challenge, before teeing up Callum Hudson-Odoi for a blocked shot in the box.
Chelsea somehow had just a one-goal lead to show for their first-half dominance as Hudson-Odoi was denied by Fabianski after putting his foot through the ball, while Higuain's shot - which he should have taken first time - was helped behind by Ryan Fredericks right at the end of a one-sided first half that ended without the Irons managing an attempt of any sort.
CHELSEA SUBS: Caballero, Barkley, Pedro, Kovacic, Giroud, Willian, Christensen
WEST HAM SUBS: Adrian, Snodgrass, Obiang, Nasri, Diop, Masuaku, Perez
KICKOFF: Chelsea get us back underway at Stamford Bridge! There is news of a half-time change for the visitors - Snodgrass is on for Hernandez, meaning Arnautovic will play in his more familiar position through the middle.
SHOT! Loftus-Cheek goes into Hazard mode by turning on the pace and getting past a couple of men, before laying it off to the Belgian forward. The angle against him, Hazard's angled shot is inches wide of the far post. Chelsea have not taken long to find their rhythm.
Noble and Rice are offering very little today - Loftus-Cheek and Hazard are drifting past them with ease. Chelsea remain in control of the match but they could do with a second goal to kill off the match.
Snodgrass gets back to stop Higuain from getting in a shot. Following a one-sided first half at Stamford Bridge, the second period has started in an identical manner. Pellegrini's tinkering has not made too much difference.
Brilliant play from Chelsea, once again. There is nothing to show for it, though - and that has been the biggest criticism of their game this evening. A cross form the left is helped behind by Fredericks before Higuain can get on the end of it.
SAVE! This is a massive warning for Chelsea. From their first proper attack of the match, West Ham force Kepa into a big save. Anderson clips it in behind for Arnautovic, who does well to cut the ball back for Lanzini. The shot is on target and Kepa is happy to parry it away.
SAVE! Azpilicueta catches Snodgrass in the box but the referee does not believe it is worthy of a penalty. Chelsea get the ball forward and Loftus-Cheek has just Fabianski to beat. He tries to scoop the ball over the West Ham keeper but gets the contact wrong and the save is made. Up the other end, Anderson's curler is saved by Kepa.
SHOT! Loftus-Cheek does not get enough whip on his curler, which drops wide of the post. The match has become incredibly open over the last five minutes, with Chelsea's one-goal lead starting to look pretty fragile.
Sarri is holding off from making a sub for the time being. Chelsea had been dominant for a good 55 minutes but West Ham are all of a sudden right back in the match. That tends to happen when you fail to take your chances!
This was nearly the second world-class goal of the evening. Rudiger heads down Anderson's long ball into the path of Cresswell, who does not manage to get enough bend on his bullet shot. Kepa was grateful to see that one spin wide.
SHOT! This second half has been a brilliant watch. Loftus-Cheek again carries the ball towards the edge of the box, slips it through and both Hazard and Hudson-Odoi make contact with the ball. Fabianski makes the save. Had he not there would have been a big debate over who got the credit for that goal!
Chelsea hit West Ham on the counter and Hazard holds the ball up for what feels like an age. He does brilliantly to hold West Ham's players off but Emerson loses the ball within a second of being given it. West Ham then counter themselves and Anderson's edge-of-the-box shot is blocked.
WEST HAM SUB! The tempo of the half has not dropped at all. It has been a gripping watch, and credit has to go to West Ham and Pellegrini in particular for changing things at the interval. Noble is replaced by Obiang.
CHELSEA SUB! Hudson-Odoi shows great control in the box but the offside flag denies him a chance to shoot. Sarri makes his first change of the game by bringing on Barkley for Loftus-Cheek in central midfield. Some of the fans booed that change.
Chelsea have started to take back control of the game over the last few minutes. Until they get a second goal, though, they will not be able to breathe easily. The Blues are trying their best to slow down the tempo of the match.
Superb from Hazard, as he gets away from a couple of men before being brought down by Rice. It really is impossible to stop him when he is at full flow. Luiz and the fresh Barkley stand over the free kick. The former takes it, smashing it into the wall.
CHELSEA SUB! Giroud is on for Higuain for the final 12 minutes or so of the match. Higuain has put in a good shift, linking up well with Hazard in the first half in particular, but he has again failed to find the back of the net.
SHOT! Rice's eyes light up and he has a chance to shoot from range, but he gets too much swerve on the ball and it ends in the stands. Anderson goes down and stays down, which is a concern for West Ham. Nasri was named among the subs today but he is not warming up.
CHANCE! Hazard rides the challenge and carries the ball towards the edge of the box. The Belgian slips it through for Hudson-Odoi down the right and the youngster very nearly picks out Barkley, but he could not get enough contact on the ball at the back post.
CHANCE! Anderson is too quick for Azpilicueta, who catches his opponent late to earn the second caution of the match. From the free kick, Arnautovic gets his head to it but it deflects off Emerson and behind for a corner. That could so easily have been 1-1.
YELLOW CARD! Kepa is the latest player to be shown a yellow card by the referee, presumably for time wasting. Hudson-Odoi makes way for Pedro, having got nearly a fully got under his belt. His Chelsea future is starting to look a lot brighter.
SAVE! Fabianski keeps the score at 1-0 by narrowing the angle to keep out Giroud's shot. Barkley did well to spot his teammate's run and Giroud perhaps should have been doing better, though the angle was definitely against him.
CHANCE! If Chelsea are pegged back in the remaining minutes Sarri will be furious. Pedro gets clear down the right and sends the ball across the face of goal. Giroud is closest to turning it in but fails to do so.
GOAL! CHELSEA 2-0 WEST HAM (EDEN HAZARD)
GOAL! After knocking at the door for large parts of the match, Hazard doubles his personal tally to kill off the match for good. Barkley spots Hazard, who had the presence of mind to drift away from his marker. The Belgian forward needs one touch to control the ball and then he unleashes a powerful shot past Fabianski with his second.
FULL TIME: CHELSEA 2-0 WEST HAM
Chelsea climb above Arsenal and Tottenham Hotspur into third place in the Premier League thanks to the brilliance of Eden hazard. The Belgian forward opened the scoring 24 minutes in with a brilliant individual strike and killed off the match late on with a well-taken second. West Ham offered more of a threat in the second half, testing Kepa through Lanzini's drive, but the home side were deserving winners in the end.
That concludes Sports Mole
's live text coverage of events from Stamford Bridge. An on-the-whistle report can be found by clicking here
, and be sure to join us tomorrow evening for updates from both Champions League matches. See you then!