West Ham - Chelsea Preview: New boss Benitez hunts for first victory at home of London rivals
The Blues manager has not enjoyed a welcoming start to his tenure at Stamford Bridge and will be looking forward to his first game away from the club’s HQ
By Rhys Turrell
Demel, Reid, Collins, O'Brien
Jarvis, Diame, Noble, Nolan, Taylor
Azpilicueta, Ivanovic, Cahill, Cole
Mata, Oscar, Hazard
The Hammers will be missing long-term injury victims Ricardo Vaz Te (shoulder) and Alou Diarra (thigh), whilst Welsh midfielder Jack Collison (knee) is building up his fitness and this game may come to soon for him.
Yossi Benayoun is ineligible against his parent club, but George McCartney (groin) could return after missing the trip to Old Trafford, whilst Mark Noble is also available after serving a one match ban on Wednesday night.
Rafa Bnitez will have to do without defender David Luiz, as the Brazilian is suspended for the trip to Upton Park after picking up a fifth yellow card in the goalless draw with Fulham on Wednesday night.
Captain John Terry (knee) is not yet ready to return, whilst midfielder Frank Lampard (calf) could miss out on a return to his old stomping ground. Daniel Sturridge (hamstring) is touch-and-go for the trip to east London, and may be saved for the Blues' Champions League clash with Nordsjaelland on Wednesday.
|DID YOU KNOW?|
- West Ham have scored just 16 times in their 14 top flight games this season.
- Of those 16 goals, Kevin Nolan has bagged five, with Mark Noble next up on two, while Andy Carroll got his first for the Hammers at Tottenham last weekend.
- West Ham have also conceded 16 goals this season, the fourth lowest tally in the top flight (Chelsea being one of the teams to have conceded less).
- Fernando Torres (pictured, right) is still Chelsea's joint-leading goalscorer.
- The Spaniard has not scored in the Premier League since the Blues' October 6 victory over Norwich.
- The Blues are undefeated at Upton Park since the 2002-03 campaign - the season before Russian billionaire Roman Abramovich bought the club.
- Chelsea have conceded almost 80% of their goals from inside the penalty area this season.
- Rafa Benitez's side have gone five games without a win in all competitions, stretching back to their Champions League victory against Shakhtar, while their last win in Premier League came against Tottenham in October.
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Top 3 Predictions
West Ham 0-2 Chelsea FC
- 14.8 %
West Ham 1-3 Chelsea FC
- 10.58 %
West Ham 1-2 Chelsea FC
- 9.8 %
|England - Premier League (EPL)||Jan 29, 2014||Chelsea FC 0 - West Ham 0|
|England - Premier League (EPL)||Nov 23, 2013||West Ham 0 - Chelsea FC 3|
|England - Premier League (EPL)||Mar 17, 2013||Chelsea FC 2 - West Ham 0|
|England - Premier League (EPL)||Dec 1, 2012||West Ham 3 - Chelsea FC 1|
|England - Premier League (EPL)||Apr 23, 2011||Chelsea FC 3 - West Ham 0|
|Mar 1, 2014||Everton 1 - West Ham 0||EPL|
|Feb 22, 2014||West Ham 3 - Southampton 1||EPL|
|Feb 11, 2014||West Ham 2 - Norwich City 0||EPL|
|Feb 8, 2014||Aston Villa 0 - West Ham 2||EPL|
|Feb 1, 2014||West Ham 2 - Swansea 0||EPL|
|12||John Obi Mikel||Midfielder|
The Irons' captain is the club's leading goalscorer this season, and with his knack of getting in the right positions at the right times, it's hard to imagine he won't be a major threat on Saturday afternoon. With Andy Carroll leading the line and winning the ball high up the pitch for the Hammers, Nolan has proved to be a perfect foil with his late breaks from midfield. But it's not just his attacking though, he's an inspirational leader on the field, and very useful when his side are without the ball too.
On fire one minute, out of the side the next; Rafa Benitez's decision to rest the Spaniard for Wednesday dire goalless draw with Fulham will have done little to endear him to the Chelsea faithful. With all the big summer signings made by Chelsea this season, it's the man they nabbed from Valencia in 2011 who has impressed more than any other recent acquisition. His goalscoring talent, movement and dribbling strike fear into even the best of defenders, and the Blues will no doubt carry a greater threat with the diminutive attacker in their side.
West Ham have lost just once at Upton Park this season, and will be confident of adding the scalp of Chelsea with the Blues currently going through a rough spell of form. Rafa Benitez might also have half an eye on Wednesday's Champions League tie, but the club's league form should take priority, and a first win in the Stamford Bridge hot seat might ease some of the fans' pressure on the Spaniard. A trip to Upton Park is never easy, and with John Terry missing through injury, giant striker Andy Carroll will relish the chance to cause havoc in the Chelsea area.
Times In BST
Live Final scheduled Suspended Cancelled Postponed