Chelsea’s new boss Antonio Conte enters the Premier League scene under somewhat of a baptism of fire, hosting West Ham United in a London derby on Monday night.
The former Juventus manager can take confidence away from the fact that the Hammers haven’t won at Stamford Bridge since September 2002, whereas West Ham are unbeaten under Slaven Bilić versus the Blues after last season’s results. Here are three key battles to look out for as two London heavyweights come head-to-head:
1 – Gary Cahill vs. Andy Carroll
There’s a lot riding on big Andy Carroll come Monday night, with the English striker scoring twice in the two games against Chelsea in the 2015/16 season.
Carroll also comes into the clash on good form, hitting a brace versus Juventus in their opening ceremony of the Olympic Stadium, which spells danger for the likes of Gary Cahill and John Terry.
Of the two English centre backs, the ex-Bolton Wanderers man has often appeared as the weakest link in the past couple of seasons and remains the most likely defender to drop out of the Chelsea XI should they land someone like Napoli’s Kalidou Koulibaly.
It’s plausible that Carroll, often targeting spaces between centre backs and full backs from crosses, will opt to fall on Cahill’s side rather than the aerially accomplished Terry.
A lot has been made of Ola Aina potentially dethroning Branislav Ivanović at right back, but with the threat posed by Carroll, the Serbian’s presence should aid Cahill.