Chelsea target West Ham win to narrow gap on leaders

Chelsea stopper Thibaut Courtois hints at a return to LaLiga to be closer to his children when his contract expires at the end of next season.
Chelsea stopper Thibaut Courtois hints at a return to LaLiga to be closer to his children when his contract expires at the end of next season.PHOTO: REUTERS

LONDON • Chelsea are determined to close in on their Manchester rivals when they kick off this weekend's round of Premier League fixtures at West Ham.

A Blues victory today would lay down a marker before leaders Manchester City meet second-placed United more than 24 hours later, narrowing an 11-point and three-point gap respectively.

"The two teams can't both take three points," Chelsea defender Cesar Azpilicueta told Sky Sports. "So every time you get an opportunity to get close, you have to take it."

The champions head to the London Stadium having won six of the last seven league games. Their only dropped points came against Liverpool in a 1-1 draw and they will expect to heap more woe on West Ham, second-bottom of the table, one point above Swansea City.

Chelsea manager Antonio Conte has a full squad to choose from except centre-back David Luiz and midfielder Danny Drinkwater.

His counterpart David Moyes is expected to keep faith with Adrian in goal in a move that threatens Joe Hart's hopes of going to next year's World Cup as England's first-choice goalkeeper.

Adrian played in Sunday's 1-2 loss at Manchester City because Hart was ineligible to face his parent club and the Spaniard made a series of saves.

The Hammers have conceded 32 goals in the top flight this season, more than any other team, and Hart had been in goal for every match until the City defeat.

Chelsea stopper Thibaut Courtois also dominated the pre-match build-up after hinting that he could leave the club for family reasons.

The Belgium international's contract expires at the end of next season and Chelsea are desperate to secure his long-term future.

But the 25-year-old, who spent three years at Atletico Madrid from 2011 to 2014, wants to move closer to his two children who are being raised in Madrid, reported the London Evening Standard.

"Everybody knows that due to my personal situation, Spain attracts me," he told Spanish station LaSexta. "If it is not now, it will be in some years."

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, THE TIMES, LONDON


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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on December 09, 2017, with the headline 'Chelsea target West Ham win to narrow gap on leaders'. Print Edition | Subscribe