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    West Ham United vs Chelsea

    Chelsea will look to ride the momentum of their fantastic weekend, as they travel across the capital to face West Ham United in a tricky London Derby.

    The Premier League leaders took a brief detour from Premier League action on Sunday when they contested the Capital One Cup final against Tottenham Hotspur. The Blues left Wembley with another piece of silverware to add to their glowing collection in the Roman Abramovich Era, Jose Mourinho’s first trophy of his second spell at the club. And they will return to league action having not seen their lead shrunk, as Manchester City were unable to overcome Liverpool.

    On the flip side, West Ham’s form has taken a significant slide following a hapless February. Three points out of a possible twelve was capped off by Saturday’s defeat to Crystal Palace. They may take some solace in the fact that those three points were in hard-earned draws against teams battling for the coveted Champions League places in Manchester United, Southampton and Tottenham. Yet, a run of only one win in ten games has not best pleased the typically demanding Hammers’ fans, with many calling for Sam Allardyce’s head following the 3-1 loss to Palace.

    Chelsea would be foolish to extend their cup-winning celebrations in the belief this match will be a forgone conclusion. Seven of West Ham’s ten victories this campaign have come at Upton Park, including some high-profile scalps of Liverpool and Manchester City. Also, the Blues’ last league defeat came at the hands of London rivals, when they fell 5-3 to Tottenham. But, the Hammers have only one victory over Chelsea in their last seventeen meetings in the Premier League, and lost 2-0 in the reverse fixture on Boxing Day.

    Capital One Cup Blues Jose Mourinho Wembley
    Sky Sports
    Although they are coming off the high of winning the Capital One Cup in pursuit of a potential treble, Chelsea will be desperate to improve on their result against Burnley, as well as some more luck from the referee. They will still be unable to call upon Nemanja Matic for the upcoming game due to the red card he received in that match, whilst John Obi Mikel will likely not be risked with a minor knee injury. Their absence has left a gap in the holding midfield role of Chelsea’s preferred 4-5-1 formation, which will likely be filled by Kurt Zouma as it was during the cup final.

    Chelsea as always will be reliant on their defensive stubbornness which has been the key to their success this season. They have only conceded upwards of one goal in three of their league matches this campaign. But, the defenders have also been popping up with important goals in recent games. Branislav Ivanovic has three in his last five matches, and captain John Terry popped up with the opening strike in the cup final. This has been useful with top scorer Diego Costa having not scored in the league since a brace against Swansea in January.

    West Ham also are not hampered by many injuries, but it is where those injuries are that are most concerning. Andy Carroll has been ruled out for the remainder of the campaign due to a ligament tear, and his power and technique will be missed leading the line. Fellow striker Carlton Cole is also out for the foreseeable future, and Morgan Amalfitano serves the final match of his suspension following his red card against West Brom in the FA Cup. However, nobody would blame Allardyce for making changes following the disappointing performance against Crystal Palace.

    Premier League Football Hammers Eagles Sam Allardyce
    Their failure to deal with Palace’s threat from set pieces will be the major topic troubling the West Ham manager, with all three of the Eagles’ goals coming from dead ball situations. The defence will thus be under heavy scrutiny, especially considering the proficiency of Chelsea’s defenders in front of goal at the moment, so the performances of Winston Reid, James Tomkins and Adrian in goal will be especially important. At the other end, the creativity of Stewart Downing will be crucial to unlock the challenging opposition, with Enner Valencia and Diafra Sakho needing to make the most of any chance they get on goal.

    Although this will by no means be an easy result for Chelsea, riding the high of their trophy success should help push them towards victory. With Europe on hold for another week, the team can devote their entire attention to West Ham on Wednesday. It will be close as West Ham have performed well all season against the top teams in the division, but the champions-elect will sneak it by the odd goal.

    Prediction: West Ham United 1 Chelsea 2
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    Item Reviewed: West Ham United vs Chelsea Rating: 5 Reviewed By: Callum Wiggins
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