Friday, 12 December 2008

Chelsea v West Ham Premier League Preview: Can Zola Cause an Upset on His Return To Stamford Bridge?


Chelsea play, Gianfranco Zola’s West Ham United in the Premier League at Stamford Bridge on Sunday.

Despite Chelsea going into this clash just a point off Liverpool at the top of the Premiership. Luiz Felipe Scolari’s Blues side have looked vulnerable at home this season, with losses to Liverpool and Arsenal at Stamford Bridge already this season after a run of four and a half years without tasting defeat at home in the league. However, Chelsea’s away form this season has more than compensated, with the West London side winning all eight on the road in the Premier League this season and go into this clash with West Ham on the back of a 2-0 win against Bolton Wanderers at the Reebok Stadium last weekend and a 2-1 win in the Champions league against Cluj, which sent them through to the knockout stages.

The Hammers go into this London derby with Chelsea, having only won once in the last ten Premier League games, which was the 1-0 win against Sunderland at the Stadium of Light. West Ham have drawn three and lost six of the other nine games and lost 2-0 to Tottenham Hotspur at Upton Park on Monday. This has seen the East London club slip down the table, with the Hammers in 16th place and just three points of the relegation spots.

Scolari will be without long-term injury Michael Essien (knee), while Franco Di Santo (hamstring), Juliano Belletti (ankle) and Ricardo Carvalho (knee) are all struggling to make it for the visit of West Ham. The Blues will have Didier Drogba available again though as the Ivory Coast International has completed his three-match ban for the coin throwing incident against Burnley in the Carling Cup.

West Ham seem to have gotten over the worst of their injury worries, with only striker Dean Ashton (os trigonum syndrome) and Daniel Gabbidon (groin) unavailable for the journey to Stamford Bridge. Former Blue Carlton Cole and Craig Bellamy are likely to start upfront for the Hammers.

Chelsea: (from) Cech, Terry, A Cole, Bosingwa, Ivanovic, Ballack, Lampard, Mikel, Kalou, J Cole, Anelka, Drogba, Cudicini, Alex, Carvalho, Di Santo, Sinclair, Deco, Belletti, Malouda, Bridge, Ferreira, Mineiro, Stoch, Woods

West Ham United: (from) Green, Neill, Upson, Ilunga, Behrami, Dyer, Parker, Bellamy, Etherington, Cole, Boa Morte, Noble, Mullins, Spector, Collins, Faubert, Stokes, Lastuvka, Tristan, Davenport, Bowyer, Collison, Di Michele, Sears, Widdowson, Hines, Jefferey

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