Chelsea welcome London rivals West Ham to Stamford Bridge on Sunday afternoon looking to open the gap between them and the chasing pack.
The Blues remain in fourth place in the Premier League table but Arsenal and Everton are now breathing down their necks after victories on Saturday, so the west Londoners know three points will be important in maintaining their top-four standing.
Rafa Benitez men head into the weekends action following Thursday night’s Europe League success over Steaua Bucharest that saw the European champions score two second half goals to qualify for the quarter finals and set up a clash with Rubin Kazan.
But it’s domestic matters that Chelsea will be concentrating on this weekend and the visitors will be hoping to do the double over their rivals for the first time in 10 years after claiming victory in the reverse fixture at Upton Park back in December.
The Hammers are currently nine points clear of the relegation zone after last weeks win over Stoke City but Sam Allardyce will be looking for at least 2 more wins before he considers his side safe for another season.
Senegalese striker Demba Ba may be recalled to the starting eleven after being ineligible for the midweek European clash after playing for Newcastle in a previous round. Fernando Torres scored the all-important third goal on Thursday though so may feel slightly aggrieved if he’s relegated to the bench.
Midfielder Frank Lampard is expected to be recalled after being rested against Bucharest while Benitez may decide to rotate his squad to keep them fresh with a packed fixture list coming up. The likes of Victor Moses, Branislav Ivanovic and Gary Cahill could all come in to the starting eleven.
Former Blues midfielder Joe Cole misses the game with a hamstring injury and Mark Noble is also struggling to overcome an arm problem that kept him out of last weeks 1-0 win over Stoke.
Captain Kevin Nolan is expected to miss out once again with a foot injury while left-back George McCartney joins him on the sidelines with a knee problem.
The Hammers have a poor recent record away at Chelsea having not won a Premier League game at Stamford Bridge in over 10 years, while the Blues are in decent form at home winning their last three on the bounce, so we can’t see past a Chelsea win. Chelsea 2-0 West Ham
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