WEST HAM UNITED
Stamford Bridge, London
March 17, 2013; 16:00 GMT
Chelsea, fresh from their progressing to the Europa League quarter-finals in the midweek, will take on London rivals West Ham United at Stamford Bridge on Sunday, and will hope that they continue their recent run of positive results with a derby win, before heading off into the international break.
The reigning European Champions have a fight on their hand, if they are to compete in the competition they won in 2012. With 52 points, Chelsea are fourth in the table, two points behind Tottenham Hotspur and five ahead of fifth placed Arsenal. The inspiring performance against Manchester United in FA Cup and the following victory over Steaua Bucharest in Europa League has ensured that Chelsea have a slew of games on their plate after the international break and with fatigue and injuries likely to play a role in such a scenario, they’d want to get three points this weekend and hope one or both of Arsenal and Tottenham drop points against Swansea and Fulham respectively.
Sam Allardyce sees his team sitting at 12th position in the table, 9 points of the drop zone, and he’d be an anxious man. The Hammers have lost 9 times on the road this season, only ahead of Reading who have the worst away record in the league with 11 losses. However, they managed to win their last game on the road at Stoke City, and have won two of their last 4 games. Furthermore, they managed to derail Rafa Benitez’s new assignment in December by defeating Chelsea 3-1 at Upton Park, but repeating the feat at a ground where they have failed to win since 2002 will certainly not be easy.
Team News and Tactical Brief
With new fresh injury concerns, only Oriol Romeu remains unavailable for selection this Sunday. Frank Lampard, Gary Cahill and Demba Ba (ineligible) didn’t start in Europa League and should be expected to feature against the Hammers.
In a 4-2-3-1 system, the defense is likely to comprise of Azpilicueta, Cahill, Terry and Cole, with Petr Cech taking his customary position between the posts. Rafa will look to retain John Obi Mikel in the starting line-up for the solidarity that the Nigerian provides, while not playing Lampard against his former clubs appears unlikely. In front of them, Eden Hazard, who has been in sensational form of late, is expected to start from the left flank, with the overused Juan Mata and Victor Moses completing the third band. Should Rafa decide to rest Mata, Oscar can get a start on Sunday. Ahead of them, former West Ham player Demba Ba will replace Fernando Torres in the starting line-up, despite the Spaniard scoring the tie-winning goal in Europa League.
Although Andy Carroll has been in poor form and has only scored thrice for the Hammers, the Chelsea defense, especially John Terry, would be wary of his physical presence in the box. The English striker had almost turned last year’s FA Cup final on its head after coming on for Liverpool in the second half.
Probable Starting Line-up (4-2-3-1): Cech; Azpilicueta, Cahill, Terry, Cole; Mikel, Lampard; Mata, Hazard, Moses; Ba
Sam Allardyce is expected to be without the services of Kevin Nolan (broken toe), Mark Noble (arm), Joe Cole (hamstring), Matt Taylor (concussion) and George McCartney (knee) for this game, as they aren’t likely to be fit in time to take on Chelsea.
Hammers will also take the field in their own 4-2-3-1 formation, with Allardyce unlikely to make too many changes to the team that defeated Stoke at the Britannia. Jaaskelainen will start behind the centre-back pairing of Collins and Reid, while O’Brien will start at left-back with Demel on the opposite flank. Diame and O’Neil will protect the back four and will sit behind Te, Collison, who’d played quite well in the last match, and Jarvis. Andy Carroll will lead the line.
Probable Starting Line-up (4-2-3-1): Jaaskelainen; Demel, Collins, Reid, O’Brien; Diame, O’Neil; Te, Collison, Jarvis; Carroll
- Chelsea have won 6 of their last 7 home matches against West Ham in all competitions.
- West Ham ended a 12-match winless streak against Chelsea by winning the reverse fixture 3-1 in December. The hosts came from behind to triumph thanks to goals from Carlton Cole, Mohamed Diame and Modibo Maiga.
- The Hammers have only taken one point from their last six visits to Stamford Bridge since a 3-2 victory in September 2002. Paolo Di Canio scored twice for the visitors, while Frank Lampard played for Chelsea and John Terry was an unused substitute.
- It’s 12 years since the Blues last lost a Premier League home game in the month of March, a 4-2 defeat against Sunderland in 2001.
- West Ham have won two of their last four games but taken only 14 points from their last 16 matches.
Player To Watch Out For
Frank Lampard (Chelsea)
Who else but Lampard? Frank Lampard began his career at the famed West Ham academy, but the fans never took to him and were happy when their club sold the Englishman to Chelsea for £11m. Frank has since then gone on to become one of the best midfielders in the Premier League in the last decade, is a Chelsea legend and is absolutely adored at Stamford Bridge. The West Ham fans certainly haven’t forgotten him and continue to boo him from time to time. Incidentally, Lampard is at 199 goals, one short of 200 and merely 3 behind the all-time record held by Bobby Tambling. It wouldn’t be a surprise if he chooses to score his 200th goal for Chelsea against his former team.
Chelsea 4-0 West Ham United
Chelsea have been playing better of late and the loss at West Ham earlier this season is still a fresh wound for most at the club. Moreover, this being a derby, even the fans would be fully behind the team to get one over the Hammers. A big Chelsea win is certainly on the cards.
Blast From The Past