Chelsea boss Rafael Benitez is expected to make some changes from the starting XI which beat Steaua Bucharest on Thursday, but club captain John Terry is likely to keep his place ahead of Gary Cahill.
Victor Moses is also pushing for a recall. Up front, Fernando Torres could get an opportunity to get on a goalscoring run after netting in the Europa League, with Demba Ba having to settle for a place on the bench. Long-term absentee Oriol Romeu (knee) remains sidelined.
As for the visitors, Sam Allardyce will be looking to build on their 1-0 win at Stoke in their previous match. Ricardo Vaz Te may get a starting berth with the away side looking for extra pace going forward.
On loan Liverpool forward Andy Carroll will again lead the line. Joe Cole (hamstring) is set to miss out on facing his former side, while George McCartney (knee) and Kevin Nolan (ankle) are also sidelined.
Ba was ineligible for the Europa League defeat of Steaua Bucharest, when Torres scored the decisive goal, missed a late penalty and suffered a bloody nose, but people feel Demba Ba could make a start despite Torres’ performance against Steaua.
Frank Lampard, who was an unused substitute against the Romanians, could feature against his former club with the midfielder eyeing his 200th Chelsea goal, while long-term injury victim Oriol Romeu (knee) is the only definite absentee.
Chelsea provisional squad: Cech, Turnbull, Hilario, Ivanovic, Ferreira, Cole, Bertrand, Luiz, Terry, Cahill, Azpilicueta, Ramires, Oscar, Mata, Benayoun, Mikel, Moses, Lampard, Hazard, Marin, Torres, Ake, Ba.
Benitez commented on the match against Steaua :
“The comeback against United we showed character, passion, commitment and quality and [the win over Steaua] was exactly the same.
“It was a great victory, a great game, against a good team. Everybody here on our side will be pleased because it was a great performance.”
Fernando Torres scored the decisive goal against the Romanians for just his second in 20 matches but hit the bar with a late penalty.
Benitez is optimistic that the striker is finding form at the right time as his team enter the final two months of the season.
The interim manager added: “He has confidence now and he can take the responsibility. We are quite pleased because he was taking the responsibility.
“It’s good. He scored and after he had more confidence and that is positive for the team and positive for him for the future. Hopefully it will be the first of a lot.”
Projected Lineup :
Azpilicueta • David Luiz • J. Terry • A. Cole
Ramires • F. Lampard
V. Moses • Mata • Oscar
G. Demel • J. Collins • W. Reid • J. O’Brien
M. Jarvis • J. Collison • G. O’Neil • M. Diamé • Ricardo Vaz Té
Key Stats :
- Torres scored only his second goal of 2013 against Steaua in the Europa League on Thursday. The other one was in the FA Cup against Brentford.
- The Blues have the joint-second best scoring record in the Premier League along with Liverpool – with 56 goals. Only Manchester United (68) have netted more.
- The meeting between the two teams earlier in the season finished in a 3-1 West Ham win. Mata gave the Blues an early lead before second half goals from Carlton Cole, Mohammed Diame and Modibo Maiga.
- The Hammers are the joint-lowest scorers away from home in the league along with Stoke City – they’ve both scored 9 goals.
- West Ham have only won two of their last eight games in the league – 1-0 wins against Swansea City and Stoke.
- Three of the last four Premier League games between Chelsea and West Ham have featured over three goals.
Chelsea face a tough week after this match and the international break, Benitez will hope all players with international duties will be healthy when they return. Nonetheless, he’s going to field a strong team as he looks to close the gap on Tottenham…. 3-0 Chelsea.
What is your take on the game? Your predictions?