Chelsea boss Benitez is ready for 'physical' West Ham test

The Stamford Bridge interim manager has called on his players to learn from the chastening 3-1 defeat to the Hammers in December and be prepared for a tough game on Sunday
Chelsea interim manager Rafa Benitez insists his players are ready for a "physical" test against West Ham at Stamford Bridge on Sunday afternoon after being bullied during a 3-1 Premier League loss to Sam Allardyce's side in December.

Carlton Cole, Mohamed Diame and Modibo Maiga all scored for the Upton Park side in the London derby earlier in the campaign with the Blues unable to cope with the strength and power of the hosts' forward line.

Despite the chastening defeat to the Hammers that day, Benitez is convinced his side have now got the "experience" necessary to cope with West Ham's tactics, and can carry on their recent fine form with another victory.

"I think it will be a similar test to the last time, but I want to think about the positives and in the first half we were playing really well; we had chances and we could have scored two or three goals," he told reporters.

18/1 John Terry is 18/1 with bet365 to open the scoring in Chelsea v West Ham today
"It was one of those games when you say you didn't win but still we did so well that we could have won in the first half. The second half was a good experience for the future, so we know West Ham are physical, they play direct football sometimes and try to win the second balls.

"We have to be ready and prepare the team properly. With two days [between games] it is not easy but mental preparation may be the main thing.

"If you approach the game with confidence, belief and desire it is easier. Now we have more experience and everyone knows each other a bit better. It will be tough anyway but we can do different things and maybe make the difference."

Chelsea's most recent games have seen comebacks to draw 2-2 with Manchester United in the FA Cup and beat Steaua 3-2 on aggregate in the Europa League, and Benitez wants his side to use the momentum for a successful run-in.

"We have been on the brink of scoring more goals in some games and we didn't do it, but still the team was doing well," he continued. "On Thursday [against Steaua] against a good team we saw good balance, a good attacking threat and we scored three goals, and we had more chances so that is a positive.

"We did well against Man United so hopefully we can do well against West Ham," he added. "We have to concentrate on the Premier League now but we have to try to keep the momentum because we are really pleased with the way that we are playing and the reaction of the players."