Chelsea welcomes an in-form Sam Allardyce’s West Ham United side in a BPL Boxing day fixture at the Bridge. This match will represent one of the crunches four fixtures Chelsea have to play in a space of 12 days during the festive season. And after an impressive display at the Britania triumphing 2-0 over Stoke City, Jose Mourinho will look to get his team to pick maximum point against West Ham so as to keep at bay the other title chasing pack.
The fixtures are already piled up and it’s yet to be seen how players will be able to cope with playing four matches in space of 12 days. This is the time of the season where teams’ depth is tested especially with fringe players getting some chance to help the team to navigate the crunchy but important fixtures.
Jose Mourinho will be expected to make some changes to the side that beat Stoke City on Monday night especially with a trip to Southampton and Tottenham Hotspur looming. A number of players who have rarely featured this season could be given chances to make an impression in the team.
Again, this is a London derby and bearing in mind West Ham’s impressive run so far this season, there is no doubt Chelsea manager will likely go out with a very strong line-up while also trying to give a breather to some player who have been heavily involved in the campaign so far.
We look at the likely Line-up Jose Mourinho could go with to face West Ham United.
Thibaut Courtois is likely to continue in goal after just returning to the line-up in the game against Stoke City. The Belgian was side-lined lately with a minor muscle injury and missed the games against Hull City as well as the Capital One Cup game against Derby County.
He returned to action against Stoke and helped his side to a win and a clean sheet and was in great form all night. He will be preferred in goal for this game and that will mean Petr Cech will have to continue on the bench. The 22-year-old has been first choice between the stick since he returned from his loan spell at Atletico Madrid in the summer.
Ceasar Azpilicueta is likely to return to right back in place of Branislav Ivanovic with the Serbian likely to partner Gary Cahill in central defence. John Terry could be rested bearing in mind the away trip to Southampton two days later and his ability to recover quickly to make the trip as he is 34 already- he will have a slower recovery rate than the younger players. Filippe Luis will likely man the left full back position as he can give the team some attacking impetus down his flank.
Jose Mourinho seems to have found his right combination in midfield with Matic, Fabregas, Willian, Oscar and Hazard a regular feature. But the set-up has changed in recent games with players like Mikel, Schurrle finding themselves in the mix and it won’t be a surprise if Mourinho tweak the midfield further more with some fringe players like Ramires, Mikel and Schurrle getting more playing time while giving some breather to one or two regulars.
Against West Ham, Nemanja Matic is likely to start as he will be the man tasked with nullifying the attacking effects of West Ham sensation- Mammadou Sissoko while also helping the team drive forward.
John Obi Mikel could start alongside the Serbian in the double pivot leaving Cesc Fabregas to play a more advanced role further up the pitch as no.10. The Spaniard would be joined further up by Oscar who is likely to take the place of Willian while Eden Hazard takes up the left wing position.
This will be a straight contest between Diego Costa and Didier Drogba but I fancy the Brazilian born Spaniard to get the nod ahead of Drogba. Didier will play at some point but it is Diego Costa who is likely to start this game.
Loic Remy could also be a part of this game but most definitely from the bench.
Jose Mourinho has shown that he is open to rotation especially in this fixture-congested part of the season. Chelsea had the most changes par match during this same period last season with the manager making an average of four changes to the side that played the previous game. It is expected that there will definitely be some changes to the side that played Stoke hence; this could be our probable Line-up against West Ham.
Azpilicueta- Cahill- Ivanovic- Luis.
Oscar- Fabregas- Hazard.
Subs: Cech, Terry, Zouma, Willian, Ramires, Schurrle, Drogba, Remy.