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Pre-match briefing: West Ham United v Chelsea

It is back to the league and an evening trip to the other side of the capital. Club historian Rick Glanvill and club statistician Paul Dutton are ready for when west meets east…

 

TALKING POINTS

Twenty minutes of celebrating and a single glass of espumante was what Jose Mourinho permitted himself on Sunday night before preparations began for this crucial league match. Chelsea’s noisy supporters at Wembley, enjoying revenge against Tottenham for the FA Cup losses to Tottenham in 1967 and the League Cup in 2008, allowed themselves a little further indulgence.

This is season of cup finals from now on, though. One of the added bonuses of Sunday’s football was second-placed Manchester City’s failure to eat into our five-point lead at the top. As things stand, City’s maximum league points total is now 88, Chelsea’s 96.

After the untimely slip-up at home to Burnley, and with the next action a week away, it is time to press home the advantage on the road. City are at home to Leicester this evening and, like Chelsea, have a free FA Cup weekend to rest and recuperate.

The Blues’ record in capital clashes this season – even excluding the Capital One Cup triumph – is exceptional. West Ham have found derbies more of a struggle, and were well beaten 3-1 by Crystal Palace at the Boleyn last weekend. 


While no one doubts the Irons will raise their game as ever, Chelsea have the second best away record in the top flight, while West Ham are the eighth best side at home. The Blues are undefeated in six league games, having hit the net in each of the last 13 and in over 90 per cent of away fixtures to date. The Hammers have failed to score in their last four games against the west Londoners. A clean sheet tonight would be the 100th under Mourinho in 185 league games.

After the Capital One Cup victory, goalscoring man of the match John Terry and the phlegmatic Kurt Zouma, deputising for Nemanja Matic in an unfamiliar midfield role, justifiably earned the plaudits.

And after Sunday, Opta reported that Blues defenders have scored 17 and set up 13 goals in all competitions this season. That was Barking boy JT’s first cup final goal, but he does love making his local club’s net bulge and scored in our 2-0 home win in December. 



Petr Cech, the less busy of the two goalkeepers at Wembley, is the only Chelsea player to have featured in each of our League Cup, FA Cup, Europa League and Champions League final wins over the last four years. Branislav Ivanovic, Gary Cahill, Ramires and Didier Drogba played three of the four.

The League Cup final victory was Chelsea’s fifth since 1964/65. Now only Liverpool, with eight, have won the trophy more times than the Blues. This was also Jose Mourinho’s third success in the competition, equalling Bob Paisley and George Graham. Sir Alex Ferguson and Brian Clough won it four times.

It is also the 20th major trophy win of the post-war period for the club once derided as a ‘music hall joke’. That is one shy of Arsenal’s haul of 21 in that time, and beyond them Manchester United’s tally is 36, Liverpool’s 37.

Yet another kink in the off-kilter fixtures this season is that at such a pivotal time of year some teams – West Ham, for example – are quickly playing two successive matches on a familiar surface with their supporters urging them on (or not, as the case may be). Others, such as table-topping Chelsea, are on the road twice in four days. Without a Wembley appearance the Blues would still have faced a strenuous trip to Leicester.

Others are in the same boat: Crystal Palace, Everton, Sunderland and Swansea have been asked to play two games on the road, while Tottenham’s first of two away trips, at QPR, was also moved back. Five teams were scheduled to have both games at home: West Ham, Liverpool, Newcastle, Stoke and QPR.

The remainder had the kind of balanced four-day schedule each team might reasonably expect at this time of year, of one home game, one away: Arsenal, Aston Villa, Burnley, Hull, Manchester City, Manchester United, Southampton, West Brom, and Leicester (to coin a phrase).

In the corresponding midweek matches last season tired limbs took their toll. Arsenal and Manchester United played out a limp 0-0, Spurs surprisingly won 4-0 at St James’ Park, relegation-bound Fulham almost caught Liverpool napping, while Chelsea could only draw 1-1 at struggling West Brom. Manchester City were handed a reprieve when severe weather caused a postponement at Sunderland.

This could be the Blues’ penultimate visit to the Boleyn Ground, with the refurbished Olympic Stadium set to open its turnstiles from 2016/17. At 54,000 the ground will have the third highest capacity in the top flight, and a leap up of 19,000 from Upton Park.

Like Stamford Bridge, West Ham’s current stadium has grown organically and unevenly over the decades since the Taylor Report, its floodlights and big screen peering like non-paying spectators from vantage points above and between the stands.

Sadly, it does not seem likely the Hammers will take their Disneyesque castle turrets up the road with them. Only the east-end club would have, ‘Will local businesses such as pie and mash shops be able to move?’ among its new stadium’s frequently asked questions.

With an average attendance of 34,845 at Upton Park this season, it may take some creative marketing to fill the new ground at Stratford with an additional 55 per cent of spectators. However any football club, indeed any business, would snap up an opportunity to grow its financial potential in such a risk-free fashion.

Unlike Tottenham, who must reallocate hundreds of millions of pounds for their new arena, West Ham’s investment to acquire a national asset has been negligible, though they will be a tenant of the stadium.

Chelsea’s next match is at home to Paris-Saint-Germain in the Champions League Round of 16 second leg. On Sunday the Parisians, without the suspended Zlatan Ibrahimovic, failed in their bid to leapfrog leaders Lyon in Ligue 1, playing out a 0-0 draw at Monaco.

Laurent Blanc’s side have not won either of their last two away games but, like Chelsea, have a vacant weekend ahead of Wednesday’s decider. Lucas Moura will not face the Blues, having undergone a hip operation. Yohan Cabaye, Thiago Motta and Serge Aurier remained unavailable for the match at the Stade Louis II stadium.
 

 


Barclays Premier League fixtures

Tonight

Manchester City v Leicester 7.45pm

Newcastle v Manchester United 7.45pm - BT Sport

QPR v Arsenal 7.45pm

Stoke v Everton 7.45pm

Tottenham v Swansea 7.45pm

West Ham v Chelsea 7.45pm

Liverpool v Burnley 8pm

 

Barclays Premier League table - top half


Race for the Premier League Golden Boot

Diego Costa                      17

Sergio Aguero (Man City)    17

Charlie Austin (QPR)           14

Harry Kane (Tottenham)      14

Alexis Sanchez (Arsenal)      12

 

Top Premier League clean sheets 

Chelsea                12

Southampton        12

West Brom            11

Liverpool              10

Swansea               10



WE HAVE HISTORY

This all-London fixture was first played in October 1923, though the club’s player connections are of older vintage. Chelsea’s first goals centurion, ‘Gatling Gun’ George Hilsdon, for example, was bought from the Boleyn in the summer of 1906.

The Pensioners’ first away victory over the east enders came at the 11th attempt, on the opening day of the 1966/67 season. The Hammers paraded their England World Cup-winning stars before kick-off but it was Chelsea’s Scotsmen, the scheming Charlie Cooke and raiding left-back Eddie McCreadie who looked international class on a baking hot day.

John Hollins’ scorcher opened the scoring 10 minutes before the break but Ronnie Boyce headed the equaliser for the hosts not long into the second half. Cooke sealed a fine personal performance with the 71st-minute winner, a low, left-footed drive. The match was filmed by Pathe and the action can be seen here:


Chelsea have lost just once against West Ham in our last 17 Premier League games over the last 12 years. We have won 13 matches during that run.

The Blues set a record victory (since beaten) on Wednesday 18 April 2007 under Jose Mourinho. Winger Shaun Wright-Phillips hit a brace either side of Carlos Tevez’s goal in a frenzied six minutes around the half-hour mark.

After the break Alan Curbishley’s side were deftly put to the sword, as Salomon Kalou followed up to bundle in a third, and Didier Drogba fended off Lucas Neill to beat Robert Green and make it 4-1 to the visitors (pictured below). 

The Hammers most recent success was at Upton Park was in December 2012. Juan Mata opened the scoring after 12 minutes but three second-half goals, two of them in the final five minutes, by Carlton Cole, Mohamed Diame and Modibo Maiga, secured the points for West Ham.






The reverse fixture this season

26 December 2014 Barclays Premier League

Chelsea………..……..2        West Ham………..……0

Terry 31

Diego Costa 62

                 Att: 41,598

 

                               

Chelsea v West Ham in all competitions

Games played   102

Chelsea wins      46

West Ham wins  37

Draws              19

 

Head to head in the League at Upton Park

Games played     45

Chelsea wins      14

West Ham wins   23

Draws                 8

 

Biggest league win at Upton Park for each team

14/02/1981 - West Ham 4-0 Chelsea

01/03/2008 - West Ham 0-4 Chelsea


TACTICAL BRIEF

West Ham are hard-working, direct, tall and canny – a strong, athletic team from the classic Sam Allardyce template. As poor as they were at home to Crystal Palace last weekend, it is odds-on they will raise their game as usual for this meeting of east and west London.

First blood could be even more crucial tonight because of the quick turnaround of matches. On three of the four occasions visiting teams have opened the scoring at the Boleyn, the Hammers have lost the match. On the road Chelsea have recouped seven points from the four times we have conceded first and won five of the eight games in which we scored before the hosts.

Perhaps as a result of the manager’s pep-talks, West Ham are yet to concede at the Boleyn in the opening quarter of an hour and score more goals in the first 15 minutes of the second half than any other period. They are at their most vulnerable just before the break.

Surprisingly, for a side that has James Tomkins and Winston Reid in central defence, the Irons were easily undone by Crystal Palace at set plays on Saturday (two corners and a free-kick). Chelsea’s opener in the Capital One Cup final likewise came from a free-kick that was not cleared.

Especially at home goalkeeper Adrian aims to start attacks as soon as he gains possession, but he might have done better on Palace’s weekend goals.

The starkest statistic from Sunday’s final (other than our two goals to Tottenham’s none, of course) was that Chelsea won just under 75% of aerial duels against the Lilywhites and almost 85% of tackles – figures that Allardyce would appreciate.

The Irons’ full-backs Aaron Cresswell (pictured below) and Carl Jenkinson tend to attack one at a time, usually the impressive Cresswell, and the one who stays tucks in to form a three-man defence. Chelsea will aim to exploit space in wide areas with rapid passing on the counter, as was the case with Diego Costa on the second goal at the weekend.

Cresswell fancies the odd pot-shot, but his miscue helped open the scoring for Palace on Saturday. On the opposite flank Arsenal loanee Jenkinson has looked less confident and will most likely be up against Eden Hazard tonight. Centre-back Reid was booked for twice clattering the skilful Belgian in December, but the Irons took it in turns to mete out punishment.

Filipe Luis may be called into action after Cesar Azpilicueta finished Sunday’s final with a bandaged head wound. In a bravura display of tenacity and focus, the left-back made eight tackles (around a quarter of the team tally), five interceptions (almost half the total) and four clearances.

In midfield against Spurs, Kurt Zouma soon adapted to his unfamiliar role as Nemanja Matic’s replacement, cutting the supply line between Cristian Eriksen and Harry Kane in the middle of a 4-3-3 formation, and enabling Ramires and Cesc Fabregas to fulfil more attacking duties.

With the Serb suspended again tonight and John Mikel Obi ruled out by Mourinho until early April, the young Frenchman may be called upon again, although the Chelsea boss has ruled out picking the same 11 as at Wembley.

West Ham’s defensive midfield should comprise Alex Song, whose clumsy challenge presented Spurs with their last-minute equaliser from the spot 10 days ago, and the slightly more advanced Cheikhou Kouyate. They are a forceful pair, but often guilty of failing to pick up opponents behind them. It is one of the areas where the Hammers have let teams off the hook.

Attacking midfield is clearly one of the Blues’ strongest suits, with Fabregas, who has set up the most goals for teammates this season, up to his tricks again at Wembley. Oscar and Juan Cuadrado will be fresh, having sat out much of Sunday’s final.

Against Spurs, Diego Costa looked back to his best for the first time since his suspension, though Didier Drogba and Loic Remy are Mourinho’s other attacking options. The manager has announced Thibaut Courtois returns in goal.

The Hammers boss will be impressing on his deep-lying players not to nod off as they did on Saturday or, indeed, our 2-0 win in December. The Irons concede around six shots at goal a game more than the average top-flight team.

West Ham must do without their right midfielder Morgan Amalfitano, who serves the last of his three-game ban. He had been linking well with the two pacy, unpredictable front men Diafra Sakho and Enner Valencia. (Andy Carroll is injured.)

When attacking, this becomes a front three with a man behind them. It was from that central position Stewart Downing was producing his most effective football for years earlier this season.

Partly because of Amalfitano’s absence, the former Boro and Liverpool left-footer has been used as an inverted winger on the right of midfield, with Mark Noble doing the probing behind the forwards. 

Noble struck the crossbar with one dead-ball effort against Palace but has netted only once so far this season, cancelled out by an own goal. Former PSG man Nene, a January signing, also hit the post on his debut. 


CHELSEA IN NUMBERS


Chelsea have won 10, drawn four and lost two of our last 16 Barclays Premier League away games. We have lost four of our last 24 away league matches.

We have opened the scoring in 20 of our 26 Premier League matches this term, the most in the top-flight.

The Blues have scored eight goals from corners this term, the most in the Premier League with West Brom.

Cesc Fabregas has assisted 27 goals for the Blues in all competitions this term.

Our 156 shots on target is more than any other top-flight team.

Eden Hazard has completed 119 successful dribbles in the Premier League, 36 more than next best Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain.

Thirty-one players have been booked for fouls on Eden Hazard this season in his 39 games in all competitions. He is the most fouled player in the Premier League.
 


Premier League scorers 56

Diego Costa 17, Hazard 9 (2 pens), Oscar 6, Ivanovic 4, Drogba 3, Remy 3, Schurrle 3, Terry 3, Fabregas 2, Willian 2, Cahill 1, Matic 1, Ramires 1, own goal 1

 

League games since

An away win: 0

An away draw: 3

An away defeat: 2

 


MILESTONES

John Terry’s goal at Wembley on Sunday was his 63rd for Chelsea. He is now 24th on our all-time goalscoring list, level with Gordon Durie.

 

WEST HAM IN NUMBERS


Formed 1895

 

Major trophies

3 FA Cups, last in 1980

1 European Cup Winners’ Cup in 1965

1 FA Charity Shield in 1964 (shared with Liverpool)

 

West Ham have won 24 points from a possible 42 at home this season with seven wins against Liverpool, QPR, Man City, Newcastle, Swansea, Leicester and Hull, three draws with Aston Villa, West Brom and Man Utd and four defeats to Tottenham, Southampton, Arsenal and Crystal Palace.

Palace’s win at Upton Park on Saturday was West Ham’s second defeat in their last 12 home Premier League games.

The Hammers have won one of their last 10 Barclays Premier League matches.

The Hammers have scored 15 headed goals this season, more than any other Premier League club.

West Ham have scored in 12 of their last 13 home leagues games. Aston Villa are the only side to manage a clean sheet in that run.

Manager Sam Allardyce

Days in charge: 1,372

Played 170

Won 66

Drawn 44

Lost 60


Premier League scorers 
(37)

Sakho 8, Carroll 5, Downing 5, Valencia 4, Amalfitano 3, C Cole 2, Kouyate 2, Zarate 2, Cresswell 1, Noble 1, Nolan 1, Reid 1, Tomkins 1, own goal 1.
 


League games since

A home win: 2

A home draw: 1

A home defeat: 0

 

WINDOW WATCH

West Ham’s completed January transfers

In Doneil Henry (Apollon Limassol, undisclosed), Nene (Al Gharafa, free).

Out Mauro Zarate (QPR, loan), Ricardo Vaz Te (Akhisar B, free), Paul McCallum (Portsmouth, loan), Sean Maguire (Accrington Stanley, loan), Blair Turgott (Coventry, free), Matthias Fanimo (released), Ravel Morrison (released), Elliott Lee (Luton, loan).


THE MAN IN THE MIDDLE

Andre Marriner is refereeing his second Chelsea game of the season. His first was against Bradford in the FA Cup at Stamford Bridge.

 

OTHERWISE ENGAGED 

Nemanja Matic (second of two) and West Ham’s Morgan Amalfitano (third of three), are suspended.

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