After three games in cup competitions it is back to league action with a London derby. Club historian Rick Glanvill and club statistician Paul Dutton weigh up the weekend fixture…
'Oh, East is East and West is West and never the twain shall meet,' wrote Rudyard Kipling, and for 90 years this spicy London derby has been proving him wrong.
This latest meeting is the last club match before a two-week FIFA break. The majority of players will have no rest, though, with two international fixtures scheduled either side of next weekend.
While the Hammers, out of the FA Cup, have had a fortnight to work themselves up for this game, Chelsea have been involved in cup matches against Manchester United and Steaua Bucharest that have played with emotions of all involved.
Thursday night's Europa League success made it five wins in the last six at the Bridge and only Reading have lost more times away than the Irons - nine defeats in 14 trips.
Prior to their most recent action West Ham had lost five in a row away from home, but winning at Stoke, as the Blues can attest, is no mean feat.
Sam Allardyce's side currently lie in 12th place, four shy of the 37 points rival boss Harry Redknapp has calculated QPR need to attain to stay up. They have several winnable matches coming up at home, where they have accrued two-thirds of their total so far.
The European champions, two points behind third-placed Spurs with a game in hand and five ahead of Arsenal in fifth, must take all three points from this game to pursue the primary aim of a top four finish.
The victory over Steaua in midweek included Chelsea's 300th goal in UEFA matches (excluding the Inter-Cities Fairs Cup, a tournament outside the organisation's jurisdiction) scored by Juan Mata. It was his 18th strike this season and 30th overall.
John Terry's superb header was his third goal of the season; his last nine have all been scored at Stamford Bridge.
Fernando Torres also notched his first goal since Brentford in the FA Cup at the end of January. In doing so he became the first player ever to score in seven different tournaments during the same season.
That's a measure of the unique demands of this busiest of seasons. Torres's Europa League winner ensures the Blues remain on course to complete a remarkable 70-game campaign in 2012/13. The minimum we can now play is 65, which is a club record, surpassing the 64 in 2006/07.
Games played for club(s) and country this season since the start of the Olympics on 26 July
Oscar 61, Hazard 55, Mata 54, Ramires 53, Ivanovic 52, Torres 52, Cech 50, D Luiz 48, Cole 44, Cahill 42, Lampard 40, Moses 39, Mikel 38, Ba 36, Bertrand 35, Azpilicueta 34, Terry 20, Benayoun 15, Romeu 15, Marin 14, Turnbull 7, Ferreira 5.
Substitute appearances are included
Chelsea's hopes of success remain very much alive in the latter stages of two competitions. Given the transitional nature of the squad this season, that is some feat and few teams across Europe can claim the same.
We now know our opponents in the next round of the Europa League will be Rubin Kazan, with the second leg on 11 April. That will be just three days before the potentially decisive Premier League match at the Bridge against Tottenham (who are in Switzerland on the Thursday) or the FA Cup semi-final clash with Manchester City, should we send City's neighbours, Man United, packing on All Fools' Day.
Should the Blues overcome the Russians in the quarter-finals the draw for the Europa League semis will take place on Friday 12 April in Nyon.
The Bridge welcomes back former Blue Carlton Cole on Sunday with Joe Cole likely to be missing due to injury (and, yes, we know Jack Collison was a childhood regular at the Bridge and Dennis Wise his hero).
More pertinent for West Ham fans will be what some of them view as the 'inevitability' that their old boy, Frank Lampard, might reach his double century against them on Sunday.
Frank, of course, needs three more goals to equal Bobby Tambling's all-time record. Bobby made his debut at home to the Hammers on 7 February 1959, hitting the winner in a 3-2 victory.
Barclays Premier League fixtures
Everton v Manchester City 12.45pm - Sky Sports
Aston Villa v QPR 3pm
Southampton v Liverpool 3pm
Stoke v West Brom 3pm
Swansea v Arsenal 3pm
Manchester United v Reading 5.30pm - ESPN
Sunderland v Norwich 1.30pm - Sky Sports
Tottenham v Fulham 3pm
Chelsea v West Ham 4pm
Wigan v Newcastle 4pm - Sky Sports
|Barclays Premier League table|
|Premier London League|
|The race for the Champions League - Games remaining|
|Chelsea (10)||Arsenal (10)||Tottenham (9)|
|West Ham (h)||Swansea (a)||Fulham (h)|
|Southampton (a)||Reading (h)||Swansea (a)|
|Sunderland (h)||West Brom (a)||Everton (h)|
|Tottenham (h)||Norwich (h)||Chelsea (a)|
|Liverpool (a)||Everton (h)||Man City (h)|
|Swansea (h)||Fulham (a)||Wigan (a)|
|Man Utd (a)||Man Utd (h)||Southampton (h)|
|Aston Villa (a)||QPR (a)||Stoke (a)|
|Everton (h)||Wigan (h)||Sunderland (h)|
|Fulham (a)||Newcastle (a)|
Click on tabs above for more briefing.
WE HAVE HISTORY
This fixture was first played at Stamford Bridge 90 years ago in October 1923 - a 0-0 draw followed a week later by a 2-0 win for the Hammers at the Boleyn.
One of the most remarkable meetings was in April 1966, a few months before the World Cup. Alf Ramsey announced his squad of 40 the same weekend, soon to be whittled down to 22. There were six Chelsea players and three Irons.
The Hammers had beaten Spurs 4-1 the day before, a Friday night, and made seven changes, resting the likes of Geoff Hurst, Johnny Byrne and Ronnie Boyce. Tommy Docherty's side took full advantage, despite a similar workload.
Bobby Moore attempted to hold together his ragged troops and failed - even Ron Harris (pictured below) weighed in with his first goal of the season, followed a minute later by an own goal.
Chelsea had surged into a 3-0 lead inside 15 minutes through George Graham, a typically clever Terry Venables spot-kick and, inevitably, Bobby Tambling. Tambling and Graham added to the tally either side of half-time before Harris's double contribution with 10 minutes remaining. Peter Bennett hit another consolation for the Hammers in just before the whistle to make the final 6-2.
This weekend the Pensioners are looking to extend our unbeaten home run against West Ham to eight games in all competitions. We have won six of the last seven.
West Ham's last win at Stamford Bridge was in September 2002. Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink opened the scoring with a penalty but goals from Defoe and Di Canio either side of the break put the visitors in the driving seat.
A sublime Zola free-kick brought the scores level but another Paolo Di Canio goal with seven minutes to go secured West Ham's first win of the season.
Our last 10 league meetings at Stamford Bridge
1999/00 - Drew 0-0
2000/01 - Chelsea won 4-2
2001/02 - Chelsea won 5-1
2002/03 - West Ham won 3-2
2005/06 - Chelsea won 4-1
2006/07 - Chelsea won 1-0
2007/08 - Chelsea won 1-0
2008/09 - Drew 1-1
2009/10 - Chelsea won 4-1
2010/09 - Chelsea won 3-0
The reverse fixture this season
1 December 2012 Barclays Premier League
West Ham……..….…3 Chelsea………..……1
C Cole 63 Mata 12
Chelsea v West Ham in all competitions
Games played 98
Chelsea wins 43
West Ham wins 37
Head to head in the League at Stamford Bridge
Games played 43
Chelsea wins 22
West Ham wins 12
Biggest league win at Stamford Bridge for each team
09/04/1966 - Chelsea 6-2 West Ham
29/03/1986 - Chelsea 0-4 West Ham
Chelsea played their 32nd game of the season: 77
West Ham played their 32nd game of the season: 13
Arsenal won a trophy: 2,856
Liverpool won the league: 8,351
Visit again tomorrow for Part Two of the Briefing.