Courtois returns for Conte's side in derby date with West Ham

Arnold Nichols
April 10, 2018

Former West Ham United forward Tony Cottee has suggested that the Hammers were fortunate to earn a 1-1 draw against Chelsea on Sunday afternoon.

But after a "bonus" game, now comes possibly the game of the season at home to Stoke. His impact was instant and probably expected by large parts of the Stamford Bridge crowd.

Chelsea's utter dominance was eventually rewarded nine minutes before the interval, when Morata's knock down found Azpilicueta inside the six-yard box and the Spaniard took a touch before prodding past a static Hart.

Joe Hart was also enormous as West Ham held on for a point.

Blues fans will probably not get the chance to watch their side perform in the Champions League next season, and will have to be content with the Europa League. The introduction of Hernandez turned a one-sided match into a thrilling end-to-end encounter, helping the visitors open up a six-point gap to 18th.

Cahill was overlooked by England for the friendlies against the Netherlands and Italy last month, and the concern for Southgate must be that on days where he is part of a defence that is largely untroubled, there remains a mistake in him.

The stuttering champions are now 10 points behind Tottenham and Blues boss Conte admits a top-four finish looks an increasingly forlorn hope.

Victor Moses and then Morata squandered decent openings, before the latter scored another offside goal.

There was an emotional tribute before the game, and after eight minutes of play, to Ray Wilkins, the former Chelsea captain and assistant manager, who died in midweek.

Many feel Liverpool have their top-four place pretty much sealed at this stage in the season, the lack of reaction to the Reds dropping points against Everton on Saturday underlines this. The longer it takes for us to kill off our opponents, the more they grow in confidence.

"We're moving in the right direction, but you've seen this league; one day you've got a big smile on your face and the next you don't". We've still got some really tough games towards end of the season, but three points against Stoke will be crucial.

"I've come back here after being released by Chelsea at 14 and five years later I'm playing for West Ham in the Premier League", said Rice.

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