Chelsea — West Ham (Premier League)
West Ham visit Stamford Bridge to meet the London Blues. The host are in the mini-pack that lead the Premier League and are starting to sever ties with the rest. Chelsea are 3rd, with 49 points, 6 clear of 4th seed Liverpool. The Hammers are 18th, sharing relegation zone with Sunderland and Cardiff, all with 18 points. It’s crowded, both at the top and bottom of the table. Who will conquer some space this Wednesday?
Things are finally falling into place at Stamford Bridge Jose Mourinho’s style. The team is playing well, everyone is performing according to that winning mentality the Portuguese Manager holds so dear. They got rid of some lost weight — no disrespect to Mata or Bertrand, they were not absolutely necessary —, acquired some liquidity and went shopping. Nemanja Matic returned home to correct a huge mistake, and he looked pretty good last time against Stoke. Mohamed Salah was reported close to Liverpool but was diverted at the last minute towards London. Apparently the number he had on Chelsea on their Champions League ties has made quite an impression on Mourinho and earned the young Egyptian an invitation to join the Blues. This is a partnership that can prove mutual beneficial. Salah’s raw talent needs to be nurtured and matured. Just look at what six months with Jose has done for Hazard, he now has the tactical discipline that will get him to the next level of performance. There’s also insistent rumours about Zouma and some kind of deal involving Diego Costa and Thibaut Courtois to happen in summer. So far Chelsea are winning the transfer window by a landslide.
Marco van Ginkel is a long-term absentee. Fernando Torres picked up a knee injury against United and will be out for some time. John Terry was spared in the Cup fixture but should return to centre-back, alongside Cahill or David Luiz.
Probable line-up: Cech — Ivanovic, Cahill, Terry, Azpilicueta — Ramires, Lampard — Willian, Oscar, Hazard — Eto’o.
It’s obvious West Ham need something extra to try some sort of kick-back on the standings. The form has been miserable and they are going on the sixth loss in their last 9 games. Sam Allardyce has been under serious fire but the owners backed him up thus denying him of an easy way out. Lately he received a few good news that hopefully will start reflecting in results. Treatment room is clearing out which means he’ll have most of the rooster available. On top of that he searched Italian Serie A for reinforcements and signed two on-loan until the end of the season. Midfielder Antonio Nocerino comes from AC Milan, Barrielo from Rome.
Winston Reid is ruled out with an ankle injury. Diamé and Joe Cole are doubtful. Everyone else is at Big Sam’s disposal, including former Roma striker Marco Borriello.
Probable line-up: Adrián — Demel, Tomkins, Collins, Rat — Noble, Morrison — Downing, Nolan, Jarvis — Carroll.
Chelsea are in a success path right now, consistent both home and away. They count seven victories in a row and are heading for the eight. Over at Upton Park West Ham are facing relegation and desperately need to gather some points. So this probably wouldn’t be their first choice opposition to do it but, hey, you play the hand you’re dealt. Will the Hammers make an effort to beat the odds?