Chelsea kick off the new Premier League season with a tough home clash against London rivals West Ham in the first Monday night fixture of the campaign – a game that is sure to hand Blues manager Antonio Conte plenty to think about.
The Italian has overseen a largely successful pre-season tour of the US and Europe, with Chelsea beating the likes of Liverpool and AC Milan on their travels.
Conte has used different tactical formations during that time, from 4-2-4 to 4-3-3, but the former Italy and Juventus manager will now have to decide on his strongest team as the West Ham game draws ever closer.
The Hammers may not have the best Premier League record against Chelsea – with the Blues having won 22 and lost just 11 of their top-flight fixtures against the east Londoners – but Slaven Bilic’s side did get the better of Chelsea last season.
Indeed, West Ham beat the Blues 2-1 at Upton Park in October before narrowly missing out on another win in the reverse fixture as a late Cesc Fabregas penalty sealed a 2-2 draw at Stamford Bridge.
And despite enduring a mixed pre-season – West Ham won only two games – their narrow 3-2 loss to European heavyweights Juventus on Sunday will give the club belief they can open the new campaign with a win over a Chelsea side still finding their feet under a new manager
Chelsea lost to Rapid Vienna (2-0) and Real Madrid (3-2) in pre-season but beat RZ Pellets (3-0), Liverpool (1-0), Milan (3-1) and Werder (4-2).
West Ham, meanwhile, began their pre-season with a 3-0 loss to Seattle Sounders before drawing 2-2 with Carolina RailHawks and FC Slovacko and then being beaten 3-0 by Rubin Kazan.
The Hammers next overcame Karlsruher SC 3-0 before their Europa League qualifiers saw the club lose 2-1 away to NK Domzale but win 3-0 at the Olympic Stadium. They ended off their preparations with a 3-2 loss to Juve.
One to watch
Chelsea fans will be keen to see how Kante fares against West Ham after the Frenchman played a huge role in Leicester City storming to their first-ever Premier League title last season.
For Hammers fans, though, all eyes are likely to be on the return of Euro 2016 finalist Dimitri Payet although if record-signing Andre Ayew makes an appearance, he will be the man to keep a close eye on following his impressive debut season in England with Swansea City last term.
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