The annual gathering of the Frank Lampard appreciation society.
As has become traditional for this fixture at the Boleyn, fans in the stands and on their sofas can expect to see what’s more commonly known as a “right old ding-dong”. This tie has little respect for league position or transfer budget, providing a few upsets over the years. Add to that the late kick-off and, consequently, an extra two-and-a-half hours down the pub and there should be an electric atmosphere under the winter’s early evening floodlights in East London.
WEST HAM FORM
- Norwich 3-1 West Ham (Prem)
- West Ham 0-0 Villa (Prem)
- Burnley 0-2 West Ham (LC)
- Swansea 0-0 West Ham (Prem)
- West Ham 1-3 Man City (Prem)
- Chelsea 2-2 WBA (Prem)
- Chelsea 3-0 Schalke (CL)
- Newcastle 2-0 Chelsea (Prem)
- Arsenal 0-2 Chelsea (LC)
- Chelsea 2-1 Man City (Prem)
West Ham are enduring a run of dismal results with the silver lining being that 3-0 win at White Hart Lane on October 6. The continued absence of Andy Carroll and the continued lack of a viable Plan B for the team sees them two places above the relegation places on goal difference alone.
The emergence of Ravel Morrison is encouraging for West Ham and he’s made a big difference since breaking into the first team, but the seemingly weekly bulletins from various media outlets of “Look at this crazy s*** Ravel did in training / at an under-21 game / in his back garden” are doing little more than piling pressure on him
. If he stuffs a donkey-kick, backheel volley past Petr Cech on Saturday, we’ll talk.
Meanwhile, in West London, Chelsea
’s form in recent weeks has been (relatively speaking) as dismal as West Ham’s. And yet they’re still in fourth place a mere four points off Arsenal in top spot – ever get the feeling this is going to be Jose’s season?
The international break came at a decent time for the Blues, giving them a moment to take stock and rationalise losing 2-0 to Newcastle and scraping a very, very lucky 2-2 draw with West Brom. However, it should be noted that Chelsea's Brazilians laid down some air miles and game time this week. Friendlies against Honduras (in Miami) and Chile (in Toronto) both had the pleasure of Oscar, David Luiz, Willian and Ramires on the pitch.
Aside from the continued absence of Carroll, West Ham’s biggest worry is the ankle injury sustained by central defender Winston Reid. The impressive Kiwi missed captaining his nation against Mexico because of the injury and has undergone surgery on the problem
. A huge blow for the Irons.
Chelsea’s Ashley Cole got a run-out at Wembley against Germany, which means he’s over the rib injury that’s kept him out of contention recently. Fernando Torres is not quite ready to return this weekend.
Player to watch: Ravel Morrison (West Ham)
Getting on the ball and keeping possession will be key for West Ham if they’re going to get anything out of this game. Morrison and Mark Noble will be the main protagonists of the art, but they’ll have a robust, experienced midfield in front of them who are going to give momentarily lapses of concentration short shrift.
The screen below shows Morrison’s passing and shooting during Manchester City’s visit to Upton Park. While his pass completion rate was good (90%) he only attempted 39 passes – and he'll need to get significantly more touches to have any real effect against Chelsea. As for Morrison’s shooting against City… less said about that the better. He’ll need a big improvement in both areas, but he’s capable of finding time and space on the ball – that’s all he needs to have a real impact here.
LAST FIVE MEETINGS
- Chelsea 2-0 W Ham (Prem, Mar 13)
- W Ham 3-1 Chelsea (Prem, Dec 12)
- Chelsea 3-0 W Ham (Prem, Apr 11)
- W Ham 1-3 Chelsea (Prem, Sep 10)
- Chelsea 4-1 W Ham (Prem, Mar 10)
Sam Allardyce doesn’t have a great record against Mourinho, but he’ll fancy his chances of causing an upset. You can put your house on the fact he will have analysed the balls off Chelsea’s last defeat. His biggest error would be approaching the game like West Ham did against Man City. Sitting back against players who are not only creative, but devastatingly so, is an error that should not be repeated.
Mourinho will dig the atmosphere – he loves a bit of needle and if he can draw some of that aggro to himself, he’ll do so for the sake of the team. Expect much hopping up and down in the technical area.
Plus, the referee is Chris Foy who has had a bit of an up-and-down relationship with the Blues over the past couple of seasons. Jose will turn up the heat there, no doubt.
Facts and figures
Tips and trends
- Only Sunderland and Crystal Palace have scored fewer goals than West Ham this season (9) and Spurs are the only team to have a lower GPG (goals per game) than the Hammers (1.82).
- This doesn’t tend to be a stingy London derby, however, with 4 of their last 5 meetings providing over 2.5 goals and 3 seeing over 4 or more strikes.
- There have been at least 3 goals in 6 of West Ham’s previous 7 home encounters against top-six teams, and in 7 of Chelsea’s last 9 against bottom-six clubs.
- Chelsea have a terrible record in November. Since 2010 the Blues' record reads W3, D6, L6 – relegation form.
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