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Ross Turnbull

By Lawrence Donaldson.

Chelsea go into their match against fellow Londoners West Ham trailing league leaders Manchester United by 2 points. Defeats to Everton and Manchester City have sent cracks though the usually resilient Chelsea machine. These cracks have been exasperated by the John Terry scandal and need to be shored up immediately if Chelsea are to have any hope of catching the brilliantly in form Man United.

John Terry will also be hoping that the Stamford bridge faithful can drown out the typically vociferous West Ham fans making the trip up west from the East End. Added background to this occasion can be found with the return to the bridge of the almost deified Gianfranco Zola – surely a future contender for the managerial role with the West London outfit.

Chelsea will be buoyed by the fact that they have defeated West Ham in their last ten meetings.   However they are facing a certified goalkeeping crisis, with Cech in physiotherapy after a picking up a calf strain in Milan and Hilario also out after picking up an injury against Stoke. Its now down to the inexperienced summer signing from Boro- Ross Turnbull- to stand in between the sticks.

However Carlo Ancellotti has asserted his confidence in Turnbull in the strongest way possible:

“I have no problem about playing Turnbull against Inter Milan.”

“I’m not worried. The performance of the team does not rely upon the goalkeeper.”

Chelsea will also have to make do without the injured Michael Essien, Ashley Cole, Jose Bosingwa, and Ricardo Carvalho.

Ancellotti also commented on the race for the title, stating the excitement of the three horse race for the premiership title:

“Pressure is good..its exciting’’ he told Chelsea TV.

Perhaps Ancelotti is hoping the run in will provide the necessary focus and cohesion that the team needs after recent events, and aid in their champions league quest. There is no doubt a big performance will settle any nerves heading into Tuesdays big champions league show down with Inter Milan.

At the other end of the table West Ham face a different set of problems far away from title challenges and champions league clashes with Milan. After defeat at Bolton, West Ham are back in the relegation mix and with Arsenal at the emirates to follow, Zola will be hopeful that West Ham can pull together in the way they did when the teams met in December at Upton park. On that day West Ham held their own with plenty of chances and a solid 1-1 draw to show for it.

West Ham so often plagued by injuries to key players over the past few seasons seem to be carrying on their Jinx with the in-form Julian Faubert now joining Illunga, Noble and more the sidelines. However bucking this trend is the January signing Benni Mcarthy who is possibly returning. The former Blackburn hit man would add muscle and experience to West Hams front-line.

Zola was keen to point out that his team will be no walk over:

“Last year we got a point in both games, so you never know what is going to happen… We are not going there already beaten, because I know that football can give you a surprise”

Zola has set the target of Ten more points for survival.

Saturdays meeting will be a vital game for both sides which will provide a foundation for their aspirations at opposite ends of the premiership table.” Zola told the BBC.


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