Chelsea manager Rafa Benitez travels to Upton Park this weekend not only looking for his first win but his first goal as Chelsea boss in an attempt to ease the growing resentment of the Spaniard amongst the fans. Benitez may find comfort in the fact that this fixture is away from Stamford Bridge where his side have accumulated only four shots on target in his two games in charge.
Chelsea come into the game having tallied only 26 points after 14 games, their worst ever start to a campaign during the Roman Abramovich era. On top of this the blues have failed to win any of their last six Premier League outings equalling their worst run of games since Abramovich bought the club in 2003 and currently sit 17th (as shown above) in the Premier League Form guide – below their opponents West Ham who are 15th.
Meanwhile Sam Allardyce’s West Ham side have enjoyed a reassuring return to top flight football this season finding themselves in a healthy mid-table position. However they themselves are struggling for form of late having only managed one victory and five points from their last six run outs. To make things worse the Hammers have only managed to conjure up two points from the six games against teams currently in the top ten.
Chelsea hold the advantage over their hosts. The Blues are unbeaten in twelve games against West Ham in the league winning ten. The last time West Ham won this fixture was back in May 2003 and Chelsea are unbeaten in their last six London derbies away from home winning two and drawing four.
The records between the two managers make for equally grim reading for the Ions. Sam Allardyce has won just two in ten meetings between the two tacticians, drawing two and losing six. Allardyce has also lost his last twelve Premier League meetings against Chelsea making it a double whammy.
West Ham’s top goal scorer Kevin Nolan is set to make his 200th league appearance for the Hammers returning from a one match ban which saw him miss his sides 1-0 defeat away to Manchester United in midweek. George McCartney and Andy Carroll are 50/50 line up for the home side nursing ankle and knee problems respectively.
Chelsea continue to be without their old guards John Terry and Frank Lampard whilst Daniel Sturridge has failed to recover in time from a pulled hamstring.
Ones to Watch
With Sturridge out Fernando Torres will be looking to extend his impressive goal scoring form against the Hammers. The Spain international has scored six against his hosts since joining the Premier League his record against any club in England. However his rich goal scoring form has been found wanting so far this term, converting only four of his 28 attempts. It is now 10 hours and 49 minutes of playing time since Torres’ last goal.
Meanwhile Chelsea hold the worst record for headers conceded this season with 38% of the goals against the blues being converted through headers. West Ham defender James Collins has scored three goals against Chelsea all of which have been headers.
Both teams find themselves in a rut of form of late, both playing a lot of football in the middle of the park. If Andy Carroll finds himself fit to record his 100th career league start this weekend his physical presence could be key in causing problems for the Chelsea back line who have struggled to cope with the aerial threat of the opposition this season.
Torres will fancy himself to get on the score sheet and Rafa’s decision on the inclusion of play-maker Juan Mata could be pivotal in creating more chances than of late for the visitors.
Prediction:- West Ham 1-1 Chelsea