Late kick off could help top 4 finish
After what was in all, a rather laboured win against Romanian outfit Steaua on Thursday evening, Chelsea return to domestic action in pursuit of that top four finish on Sunday afternoon.
Fernando Torres became the first player in Chelsea history to score in 7 separate competitions after his notch midweek, and will be in contention to start against the Hammers’ despite Demba Ba return to the squad after he sat out the Europa League tie though ineligibility.
Frank Lampard will be raring to start against his former employers after bench warming on Benitez’ command in the week, in search of his 200th goal for the club. How sweet it would be for it to come against the club that let him go for what looks a snippet 12 years ago. He scored 24 goals for West Ham.
There seems to be signs of life in the old dogs yet.
Last weekend’s comeback against Manchester United, followed by scoring the two goals we needed to advance in our hunt for another European trophy. I think Mikel coming into the side again has provided a bit of stability in front of the back four, whilst Eden Hazard is showing flashes of what £32 million quid will buy you.
West Ham came from behind at Upton Park earlier in the season in a game that really sparked the toxic flames that have suffocated Rafa Benitez during his tumultuous time at the Stamford Bridge reigns. Although the Hammers have struggled away from home this season, is what has been an altogether, forgettable first season back with the big boys. They have lost nine games away from home this campaign.
Chelsea might welcome back Carlton Cole to the Bridge, but Joe Cole misses out with a hamstring injury. Captain Kevin Nolan is a doubt although Mark Noble and James Tomkins should be fit after bouts of illness. Chelsea’s only absentee is Oriol Romeu, who remains out for the foreseeable future.
We kick off an hour after Tottenham entertain Fulham and a day after Arsenal’s trip to Swansea. The Gunners sit 5 points behind us at the start of the weekend, in fifth whilst Spurs are 2 points ahead, although we have a game in hand.