Chelsea should be riding high after a Europa League comeback against Steaua Bucuresti and will look to parlay that momentum into a Premier League victory over West Ham United. The last meeting between the clubs resulted in 3-1 win for West Ham.
The Blues are currently trying to secure a top-three spot to qualify for next season's Champions League without having to go through the playoff round. At the same time, they have to be worried about slipping out of the top four. It's a crucial stretch.
Here's a look at all the important information for Sunday's clash, followed by a match preview and a prediction as the Blues battle the Hammers.
Where: Stamford Bridge in London, England
When: Sunday, March 17 at 12 p.m. ET
Watch: Fox Soccer Channel and Fox Deportes
Live Stream: Fox Soccer 2Go
Chelsea are finally showing signs of life again after an extended run of lackluster play. A two-goal comeback in the second half against Manchester United last weekend in FA Cup play really seemed to ignite a fire inside the Blues that was missing for awhile.
Given the tight table situation, the revitalized play couldn't have come at a better time. If the Blues want to lock down one of those coveted top three spots, they are going to need to finish strong over the final 10 matches because Tottenham and Arsenal are both playing well.
The key for Chelsea will be capitalizing on their chances. In the first meeting between the two sides they failed to do that, scoring just once despite a possession advantage and several chances. West Ham then took control in the final half-hour to steal three points.
At least the Blues can enter the match confident in their attack. They have scored five goals over the past two games, with each on being scored by a different player. That type of across-the-board production is what has been missing for awhile.
Between Demba Ba and Fernando Torres, who looks like he might be entering one of his useful spells, and a myriad of midfielders, highlighted by the reliable Juan Mata, Rafa Benitez has no shortage of options at his disposal.
West Ham aren't as fortunate. The club's top-two goal scorers, Kevin Nolan and Mark Noble, are both dealing with injury concerns. And Andy Carroll is still attempting to rediscover the magic he showcased earlier in his career.
The Hammers also might have to shake off some rust in the early going after over two weeks without a match. It's not an ideal situation, especially when you consider Chelsea is in good form and will probably come flying out of the gates.
Since the Blues will be looking to avenge the defeat from earlier in the campaign, expect a solid, controlling performance en route to all three points in front of the home fans.
Prediction: Chelsea 2, West Ham 0
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