A Chelsea side struggling for both form and confidence at the moment make the short trip across London to West Ham still searching for their first win and indeed their first goal under new manager Rafa Benitez.
The Spaniard has come under criticism from his own fans after the way he replaced the popular Roberto Di Matteo as manager, an ill-feeling that has been compounded with the way the previously free-flowing and entertaining European champions have slipped to two consecutive home goalless draws since Benitez took charge, against Manchester City and Fulham.
Chelsea will again be without influential pair John Terry and Frank Lampard, who remain a couple of weeks away from a first-team return with knee and calf injuries respectively. Elsewhere, Daniel Sturridge looks set to miss out once more. Benitez may choose to recall Juan Mata to the starting XI after resting him for the draw with Fulham in midweek while he is set to persist with misfiring striker Fernando Torres up front despite the Spaniard’s palpable lack of form at the moment.
Sam Allardyce’s West Ham showed good fighting spirit at Manchester United after suffering the blow of Robin Van Persie’s quickfire opening and against a side as rattled as Chelsea at the moment, the Hammers will be confident of securing at least a point in front of their own fans.
Allardyce will have to give late fitness tests to Andy Carroll, who finally broke his scoring duck in the defeat at Tottenham last week, as well as ex-Chelsea man Yossi Benayoun and George McCartney. Alou Diarra, Ricardo Vaz Te and Jack Collison remain long term absentees.
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