West Ham United v Chelsea Match Preview (Premier League) – 23rd November 2013

Jose Mourinho may have suggested the spot kick awarded to his side in stoppage time against West Brom last time out was a “clear penalty”, but most would beg to differ. Still, decisions tend to even themselves out over the season and this one definitely went the way of the Blues as Eden Hazard stepped up to calmly convert and make it 2-2, earning a point and extending the Special One’s unbeaten home Premier League record to 66 matches.

Coming on the back of a 2-0 defeat at Newcastle, a home loss against the Baggies (or any side, come to that) would have been unacceptable from a Chelsea point of view. And though Mourinho didn’t quite get the reaction he was seeking, West Brom performing very well, it could prove a valuable point in the race for the title.

The Portuguese boss will know, however, that the Blues will need to despatch teams like West Ham if they are to stride on to Premier League glory this term, and though Sam Allardyce and his men might put up sturdy resistance, we can’t see any other result than a Chelsea win on Saturday at the Boleyn Ground. Apart from their opening weekend win over Cardiff, West Ham have been dour and dire in equal measure, except for an astounding 3-0 victory against Spurs at White Hart Lane that stunned fans of both sides.

The Hammers have failed to follow that fine result with anything other than hard-working football that lacks invention. Their four draws this season (against Newcastle, Southampton, Swansea and Aston Villa) have all ended 0-0, and though West Ham did beat Chelsea 3-1 at home last season we feel their best chance of success here (success being to avoid a heavy defeat) will be to kill the game from the start, packing the midfield and defending in numbers.

Mourinho will of course anticipate this and is likely to send out a highly attacking side given the home side have little in the way of goal threat of their own. Okay, Ravel Morrison has been very impressive for the Hammers, but with Andy Carroll still out injured and Ricardo Vaz Te joining him on the physiotherapist’s couch, there simply aren’t enough goals in the side. Joe Cole and Kevin Nolan are not the players they once were and there appears a lack of adventure in the side, Morrison aside.

As such we fancy the many attacking options at Mourinho’s disposal, along with his demands for improvement from recent league performances, will see the Blues to victory on Saturday. Chelsea’s 3-1 win at Norwich in early October could be a good indicator of the way this match will go. Except we can’t see the Hammers having enough ammunition to upset a generally sturdy Chelsea backline. As such, while it might take a while to get the first goal, we think a relatively comfortable Chelsea win is on the cards.

LCN Verdict: Chelsea to win 2-0