West Ham Need Marquee Performance from Star Defender

West Ham United's Italian defender Angelo Ogbonna. (Photo by ADAM DAVY/POOL/AFP via Getty Images)
West Ham United's Italian defender Angelo Ogbonna. (Photo by ADAM DAVY/POOL/AFP via Getty Images) /

Chelsea will prove a tough matchup for West Ham but all can be neutralized with a strong, character performance of the Hammers stout defensive captain.

Chelsea are a bit of an enigma at the moment. Coming off of an immense summer transfer window that completely transformed their attack and upgraded their keeper and left-back, the Blues are sitting in seventh in the table after only being able to beat bottom-half teams in the table. West Ham, who sit eighth, hope this trend continues.

The Hammers have shown up against the traditional top six extremely well this season. Only blunders against Arsenal, Manchester United, and Liverpool saw them leave without a point, and all three matches were extremely close.

A huge factor in West Ham’s promising start to this season has been the continued strong performances of Angelo Ogbonna, the Hammers defensive captain and ageless wonder at the back. Coming off of a renaissance season last year, Ogbonna has continued to improve despite being 32-years-old.

Within the squad, Ogbonna ranks third in passes (448), seventh in tackles (12), third in aerial battles won (32), first in clearances (62), and seventh in interceptions (10). His stats back up the unreal start to the 2020/21 season he’s been having.

Whoever Ogbonna marks will have their hands full with getting by this towering and generally dominant defender. Timo Werner is likely to have the pleasure, but both Tammy Abraham and Olivier Giroud could factor in challenging him in the air instead of on the ground.

West Ham will have injury concerns that could affect the backline. Fabian Balbuena unquestionable and may miss the match as well as Aaron Cresswell. Issa Diop looked shaky against Crystal Palace so Craig Dawson could start the game alongside Ogbonna instead.

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Regardless of who he pairs with, as long as Ogbonna is starting there will be a sense of safety and quiet confidence at the back. Chelsea are primed and able to put up goals, but West Ham’s resolute defending this season could nullify a new-look Chelsea team.