After a week off due to a few rounds of international matches, normal service is resumed this weekend with Chelsea making the short trip over to Upton Park to face West Ham United. Chelsea have not been at their best in the last few games and scrapped a draw against West Brom with a last minute penalty last time out. With many of their players coming back from international duty all over world, West Ham will want to catch Chelsea cold and hope of a repeat of the same fixture last season. The Hammers were victors in a 3-1 win due to fantastic second half comeback capped off with a glorious goal from Mohamed Diame. However, Jose Mourinho boasts a 100% record against West Ham during his first tenure at the club and will hope it continues when they meet on Saturday.
Sitting in 16th place at the moment, if results go against West Ham, they may find themselves in the bottom three before they even kick off but any result against Chelsea will be a bonus in their view. Chelsea are four points behind first placed Arsenal and will want to put pressure on them and the other around the top of the table especially with the busy festive period coming up.
West Ham United
The Hammers have a whole host of players in the treatment room at the moment and big miss for the Saturday evening game will be Winston Reid who has picked up an ankle injury before the international break. Much of West Ham’s good defensively play has come from Reid and this shows in the number of goals they have conceded. However, with him being out until the New Year, they will have to make changes at the back. West Ham do hope to have James Collins and Joey O’Brien fit they after both pulled out of internationals friendlies and are likely to replace Reid and also Razvan Rat who was injured playing for Romania.
Alou Diarra, Ricardo Vaz Te and Andy Carroll are all long term absentees with Matt Taylor recovering from an injury to hopefully play some part of the match. Carlton Cole will be eyeing up a first start since re-signing for the Hammers but Sam Allardyce may want to continue with Kevin Nolan playing as a false striker.
Ashley Cole aggravated a rib injury which kept him out of the international friendlies for England and will most definitely not feature in this game. Fernando Torres has recovered from the injury which made him miss the game against West Ham and will be vying to start in the forward position alongside Samuel Eto’o. Marco Van Ginkel is a long term absentee but apart from that Mourinho will be delighted to have no fresh injuries to be concerned about. He will need to make key decisions in defence with either Cahill or Luiz partnering Terry at centre-back and also in midfield with Mata, Schurrle, Willian, Oscar, Mikel and Lampard fighting for three positions alongside Hazard and Ramires.
Possible Team Line-Ups
- The last meeting between the two sides at Upton Park ended as a 3-1 win to West Ham but out of the last 5 meetings between them at Upton Park this is the only win West Ham have managed drawing once a losing three times.
- So far this season Chelsea have only had a chance conversion rate of 13%, scoring 18 goals out of 142 shots
- West Ham have only scored nine goals this season, the joint lowest in the league outside the bottom three.
- Mourinho has never dropped any points against West Ham whilst being manager of Chelsea
West Ham: Ravel Morrison
The young attacking midfielder has played exceptionally well this season with great performances for the England U21’s as well as for West Ham and he is also top scorer so far this season for West Ham with 3 goals and also 1 assist to his name. He could prove to be a nightmare for the defenders with his direct nature and has the trickery to cause problems. He could be a big influence on the game as he can not only score but he can pick out passes very well with 87% passing accuracy out of 328 passes he has made this season. With not much attacking threat coming from West Ham this season he definitely could have a crucial part to play if they are to score against Chelsea
Chelsea: Eden Hazard
One of Chelsea’s better performing players so far, Eden Hazard has scored 4 goals so far, joint top with Oscar. With his crafty footwork and his ability to breeze past players with ease, he is certainly one to watch out for as he could be a thorn in West Ham’s defence. He is known as a very creative player who can play some wonderful passes, but so far this season he has lacked that bit of creativity that Chelsea need to start playing well and getting more points on the board. Only he and Ramires have started all 11 games so far in an ever-changing midfield which shows that Mourinho has faith in Hazard’s is capabilities on the pitch.
West Ham have only won one game at home this season and goal scoring has been a real issue so if they are to get anything they need to be clinical within the final third. With Chelsea’s firepower within midfield and plenty of options on the bench if they need to change personnel, it is hard to see past anything but a Chelsea win. Saying that I do expect it to be a tight affair between these London rivals but with Winston Reid out injured, I feel West Ham will be suspect at the back and a Chelsea win seems to be the likeliest outcome.
Prediction: West Ham 1-3 Chelsea