London derby time at Upton Park.
Rafa Benitez takes his Chelsea side to Upton Park on the back of two limp, goalless draws and the Spaniard will come under increasing pressure if the Blues return from East London with anything other than three points. The former Liverpool boss has stressed that his side is still in the hunt for the title, despite falling seven points off the Premier League summit and a win at West Ham may be a tough ask, given Chelsea’s form of late.
West Ham have lost just one of their seven home Premier League matches – against Arsenal – and Sam Allardyce’s side are proving a tough nut to crack. In their midweek visit to Man United they were perhaps unlucky to not come away with at least point, after battling back from conceding a goal in the opening minute of the match.
Venue Upton Park, Saturday 12.45pm
Last season n/a
Referee M Atkinson
This season’s matches 11 Y44, R1, 4.09 cards per game
Odds West Ham 14-5 Chelsea 10-11 Draw 5-2
Subs from Spiegel, O’Brien, Taylor, Potts, Spence, Tomkins, Moncur, O’Neil, Fanimo, Maïga, Hall, Cole, Taylor
Doubtful McCartney (ankle), Carroll (knee)
Injured Collison (knee, 26 Dec), Vaz Te (shoulder, Jan), Diarra (thigh, unknown)
Ineligible Benayoun (terms of loan deal)
Form guide LLDWDL
Disciplinary record Y31 R0
Leading scorer Nolan 5
Subs from Turnbull, Hilário, Blackman, Ferreira, Romeu, Bertrand, Piazon, Marin, Hazard
Injured Sturridge (hamstring, Dec 13), Lampard (calf, Dec 13), Terry (knee, Dec 13)
Suspended David Luiz (one match)
Form guide DDLDDL
Disciplinary record Y19 R2
Leading scorer Mata, Torres 4
Chelsea are unbeaten in their last 12 league meetings with West Ham, plus a League Cup tie, since a 1-0 defeat at Upton Park in May 2003 (W11, D2).
The Hammers have managed only one victory, and five points, from their last six matches.
Sam Allardyce’s side have failed to win a match in which they have trailed this season, gaining just two points from losing positions (D2, L4).
They have also only earned two points from their six matches against clubs currently in the top half of the table.
If fit, Andy Carroll is expected to make his 100th career league start.
Chelsea’s points tally of 26 is their lowest in the Premier League after 14 games of a season since Roman Abramovich
bought the club in 2003.
They have failed to win in their last six Premier League matches, equalling their longest barren run in the Abramovich era.
They also went six games without victory from November to December 2010, when Carlo Ancelotti was manager.
Rafael Benitez is the second Chelsea manager under Abramovich to fail to win in his opening two matches in charge; the first was Avram Grant.
It’s more than five years since Chelsea failed to score in three successive league matches – that was as part of a four-match goalless streak in September 2007.
The European champions scored 19 goals in their opening eight league games but have managed just five in their subsequent six matches.
Fernando Torres hasn’t scored in the league in 10 hours and 49 minutes since his goal against Norwich on 6 October.
SOURCE: BBC Sport
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