Chelsea return to Premier League action on Wednesday night, as they cross the capital to face an out of form West Ham side. The Hammers are sitting well in the top half after an excellent season, but a loss to the Blues over Christmas was part of a poor run for them, and that’s continued on in the first two months of 2015. Despite that, this will still be a tough game, with the league leaders missing players and having to come in to this on the back of a cup final, albeit one they won.
Chelsea will of course be missing Nemanja Matic for this one, as he serves the second and final game of his ban for his red card at Burnley. The Serbian is a big miss for the Blues, especially with his stand-in John Obi Mikel also likely to miss out. Without a recognised defensive midfielder, this will be a tough game, as West Ham have a physical side and enough pace to worry any opposition.
So far this season, West Ham have beaten Liverpool and Manchester City at home, so they pose a threat to the league’s top sides at Upton Park. The league leaders do represent a very different task though, especially given how Sam Allardyce has seen his side’s good start to the season collapse in recent weeks and months.
The Hammers are without a win in their last six games, while they’ve managed just one league victory since losing 2-0 at Stamford Bridge on Boxing Day last year. Goals from John Terry and Diego Costa sealed that win, a comfortable one, which was the last game at the Bridge in 2014.
After the League Cup final, there are also league and Champions League commitments for Chelsea to fulfil over the coming weeks. The return leg of the last 16 clash with PSG takes place a week after the trip to Upton Park, and Jose Mourinho will be hoping to have the majority of his squad available and fighting fit for that game against the French champions.
We know Mourinho isn’t usually one for rotating these days, he prefers a settled team and it’s hard to imagine we’ll see too many changes at Upton Park. We may see the odd change from the League Cup final, possibly with the centre halves and in the attacking midfield positions, but the central midfield options are too restricted to see many changes. It is hard to imagine the same side playing the League Cup final and then starting against the Hammers just over 72 hours later.
While the final showdown with Spurs will be the big game of the week, the club can’t afford to drop their focus in the league, as they look to keep Manchester City at bay as we head in to the final stretch. After this game we’ll have just 10 left in the league, which is when things get really serious.
LCN Verdict: Chelsea to win 2-0