Date: Saturday 19th March, 2016
Venue: Stamford Bridge
Kick-off: 15:00 GMT
I can’t remember writing a preview that felt quite as pointless as this.
You couldn’t have written it at the start of the season – holding Champions, a squad with the likes of Diego Costa, Eden Hazard and Cesc Fabregas, with Jose Mourinho leading the way – yet we’ve just gone out of the Champions League and FA Cup, we’re 10th in the table and we’re as motivated as teenagers on school mornings. Costa’s got himself suspended, Hazard has gone from subbing himself to putting himself on the sick list altogether, Fabregas has gone missing more often than not, although even his ‘absences’ aren’t quite as apparent as our former boss. Talking of absentees, Messrs Falcao and Pato aren’t exactly going to help us out of the hole we’re in either – still, at least we won’t get relegated eh Guus?!
As for today’s opponents, it’s fair to say West Ham are having a decidedly better time of it under Slaven Bilic. 5th in the table, they’ve only lost two of the last 16 league games and they’re on a run of 3 straight wins. Unfortunately for us, they seem to favour goals away from home this season and they have Payet in some cracking form.
Going into today’s game, Chelsea interim manager Guus Hiddink says “I expect a tough match because they are doing very well at home and away. They are a courageous team who are fast on the counter attack. They have skilful players, they are a nice team to watch.
They are in the mood in fifth position, not just dreaming but maybe making fourth place come true. They’ve shown they can play and they have players who can be decisive at any minute.”
West Ham manager Slaven Bilic meanwhile, says “Chelsea are thinking there’s nine games to go and if they click they can finish very, very high also. In that sense it’s not a great time [to play them] because now they have only Premier League. Make no mistake – I’m expecting them to be really hungry and totally focused on the Premier League.”
For Chelsea, Zouma (knee), Falcao and Eden Hazard (hip) are injured. Diego Costa is suspended.
For West Ham, James Tomkins (calf) and James Collins (hamstring) aren’t yet fit to return, Victor Moses is ineligible against us but Sam Byram is available again.
CHELSEA (Possible line-up): Courtois, Azpilicueta, Ivanovic, Cahill, Terry, Mikel, Fabregas, Pedro, Willian, Oscar, Traore.
WEST HAM (Possible line-up): Randolph, Byram, Reid, Ogbonna, Cresswell, Kouyate, Noble, Antonio, Lanzini, Payet, Sakho.
Chelsea 2-0 West Ham (26th December 2014)
RECENT FORM (all competitions)
WEST HAM: DWWWWD
~ Chelsea are unbeaten the last nine at home to West Ham in the league
~ Chelsea are unbeaten in their last 13 games in the Premier League
~ Chelsea have drawn five of their last six home games in the league
~ Chelsea have kept just one clean sheet in their last six at home
~ Only Everton and Manchester City have scored more than Chelsea’s 27 home goals in this season’s Premier League.
~ West Ham have won their last three Premier League games.
~ West Ham have scored more goals away from home than at Upton Park this season.
~ West Ham have won one of the last six games against Chelsea
I might have expected Hiddink to get us another draw this week if we hadn’t been quite so toothless lately. Our defending against Everton was school-boy and West Ham have scored three in a game on five occasions this season – four of those away. It doesn’t look good for us today.