Fofana set for Blues debut

Wesley Fofana


Chelsea and West Ham could each do with a spark to ignite sluggish starts to 2022-23 and what better catalyst than a thumping victory over an old London rival?
Previous performances this season suggest neither side will cut loose and show their best form in what has been an evenly contested fixture in recent years, but any kind of win would provide a confidence boost for the hectic schedule to come.
Blues boss Thomas Tuchel has no shortage of talent to tinker with after new owner Todd Boehly went on a £250m spending spree, but midfield injuries and the integration of those summer signings has led to a chop-and-change campaign of disjointed performances.
Embarrassing defeats away at Leeds and Southampton have had Chelsea supporters grumbling so Tuchel will hope that home advantage and some sparkling displays from his new signings can help the Blues get over the line against a Hammers side who lack rhythm but never give less than 100%.
Tuchel still has issues in central midfield, with N’Golo Kante and Ruben Loftus-Cheek both expected to be out for several weeks with hamstring injuries.
Mateo Kovacic has recovered from the knee issue that kept him out for the start of the season but the Croatia midfielder may not yet be ready for a full 90 minutes.
Defensive midfielder Denis Zakaria signed on loan from Juventus on deadline day but is unlikely to be thrown straight into a London derby.
However, Conor Gallagher returns from a one-match suspension and could again line up next to Jorginho in midfield, while wing-back Reece James is expected to return after illness kept him out of the midweek trip to Southampton.
Defender Trevoh Chalobah is touch and go after picking up a knock against Leicester last weekend but new centre-back signing Wesley Fofana will be available.