West Ham will be hoping to cause an upset at Stamford Bridge on Wednesday night as they make the trip across town to face a Chelsea side who have not been beaten in the league at home under Mourinho.
With the 3-1 win back in December 2012 over The Blues still fresh in the mind, I can’t help but remain optimistic about the matchup. Although it’s been a tough transfer window for The Hammers with Allardyce missing out at the very last minute with Ivorian giant Lacina Traore, and having a bid in the region of £3.5m rejected by Leeds for their Scottish international Ross McCormack, the two new additions of Marco Borriello and Antonio Nocerino to the squad have provided a huge confidence boost ahead of the midweek clash.
This is not to say that these two Italian stallions are guaranteed to bring success in the same way that a certain Paolo Di Canio did back in 1999, or respectively as Alessandro Diamanti did a decade later in 2009, but the fact alone that they are both expected to be included in the squad will bring a new topic of conversation amongst the West Ham fans, and should be evident amongst the attitude of the players.
To add to this, the return of Andy Carroll who will be looking to make his first start since May, along with Collins, McCartney and Joey O’Brien back available for selection should mean that it will feel like West Ham have acquired more than just the two Italian new boys this January. It would appear that, although the return to first team football for Winston Reid is imminent, the London derby may be a few days too soon.
Although Big Sam has publicly said that West Ham will not go to Stamford Bridge expecting to lose, The Hammers cannot afford to go to Chelsea forgetting the likes of Hazard, Oscar, Matic and of course Frank Lampard. With new signing Mohammed Salah looking to make his first starts for the Blues, Chelsea will be intent on potentially finishing the evening in top spot looking down on the rest of teams below them with Manchester City facing a tough test away at White Hart Lane. They remain without Fernando Torres upfront, and with the 32 year old Samuel Eto’o having started against Stoke in the FA Cup just four days ago, this may open the door for West Ham old boy Demba Ba to make his 9th appearance of the season.
Although expecting to come away with anything more than a point from this tie is optimistic, what I would like to see, and I’m sure I speak on behalf of all of the supporters, is a performance filled with passion, because our next few games are crucial with the likes of fellow strugglers Swansea, Aston Villa and Norwich.