Who: West Ham United FC vs. Chelsea FC
What: English Premier League Week 12
Where: Upton Park (Boleyn Ground), London, England, United Kingdom
When: Saturday, November 23, 2013
Weather: The Weather Channel Upton Park forecast
Time: 17:30 GMT/12:30 p.m. ET/9:30 a.m. PT
TV: NBC,NBC Sports Live Extra (US), DirecTV; Sky Sports 1/HD, Sky Go UK, NOW TV powered by Sky (UK)
Worldwide Live Streams and TV Channels: LiveSoccerTV.com
Radio: SiriusXMFC - Sirius Channel 94 (Internet 94), TalkSport Radio
Referee: EPL Referee Appointment Link
3-Way Odds: West Ham +450, Chelsea -280, Draw +280
Total: Over 2½ -125, Under 2½ -105
Decimal Odds: West Ham 5.50, Chelsea 1.65, Draw 3.80
Decimal Total: Over 2½ 1.80, Under 2½ 1.95
Fractional Odds: West Ham 14/5, Chelsea 20/31, Draw 14/5
Fractional Total: Over 2½ 4/5, Under 2½ 20/21
Alternate Odds: West Ham +1 -150, Chelsea -1 +115
Source: Bovada (Kahnawake, Canada)
English Premier League action returns this weekend with Chelsea traveling 16.787 kilometers to the northeast to Upton Park to face beleaguered West Ham United in a London derby which will be televised here stateside on the “Peacock Network,” NBC.
The last time these two teams locked horns here on Green Street—50 weeks ago on Dec. 1—the Hammers rallied for a 3-1 upset over the Blues as Carlton Cole provided the equalizer and Mohamed Diamé the game-winner at the 86-minute mark after Juan Mata gave Chelsea a 1-0 halftime lead. So you can definitely expect a little revenge festering in the minds of the visitors.
West Ham (2-4-5, 10 points) will begin the day in 16h place in the Premier League table and only out of the relegation zone because of goal differential (-2 to 18th-place Fulham’s -9). The Hammers have scored just 9 goals in 11 matches, but their defense has made up for the offensive ineptness, allowing only 11 so far in league play thanks to 38-year-old Finnish goalkeeper Jussi Jaaskelainen.
What will happen Saturday?
There’s no doubt West Ham manager Sam Allardyce hopes his anemic offense will improve, but with only two scorers with two or more goals nearly one-third into the season—Ravel Morrison (3) and Ricardo Vaz Te (2)—lord only knows where the Hammers boss will look for more scoring from this point forward. Maybe Carlos Valderrama can be lured out of retirement. Hey, times are tough, Bubba.
Expect host West Ham to approach the game from a more defensive posture with Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho likely starting with the Blues’ familiar 4-2-3-1 tactical formation and trying to take it to the Hammers in the opening 45 minutes.
Who knows how much rust from the mini-break will affect the players involved here, but one thing is for sure for the Europa League champions—they cannot afford to come away from any more games this season like this with less than three points after the disappointments against Newcastle United and West Bromwich Albion and surprising Southampton’s apparent presence into what now may be an eight-club race.
Let the good times roll, brother.
Chelsea (6-3-2, 21 points) will enter the game in fourth place, a slim point ahead of defending champions Manchester United, Everton and Tottenham Hotspur (20 points) and just two ahead of Manchester City (19 points), so if owner Roman Abramovich’s Ministry of the Silly Crossing Pass isn’t scared quite yet, well, they should be.
Two seemingly perpetual problem spots for the Blues remain to be at striker and central midfield. Fernando Torres, Samuel Eto’o and Demba Ba have been serviceable, but in league play, the trio has been extremely disappointing so far at striker, while Frank Lampard has been more of a liability on the pitch than an asset in the midfield and is probably better suited for a reserve role or in spot starts against lesser opponents.
One thing’s for sure—Mourinho certainly isn’t scared to juggle his starting XI.
In the last 10 Premier League meetings in this series, Chelsea have a dominating 7-2-1 (win-draw-loss) mark and have outscored its London neighbors, 21-7 in the process, registering five clean sheets. So, that Blues loss in the last meeting at Upton Park was their first time failing to land points against West Ham in quite some time.
Although 4 of the last 5 games in this series have gone over the posted total by oddsmakers, the Hammers 7-4 record to the under so far this season makes it very hard to handicap the pace and eventual final score in this one.
As long as Chelsea goalkeeper Petr Cech avoids any more embarrassing gaffes as he did in his last outing against the Baggies, the Blues are very capable of a shutout, and the under is worth a look, and there’s no doubt the colder weather—Saturday’s high at Boleyn Ground is forecast to be 43 degrees Fahrenheit—will likely slow play down at least a little bit.
The Special One will probably employ his somewhat usual back four of Ashley Cole, John Terry, Gary Cahill and Branislav Ivanovic, but who knows who the 50-year-old Portuguese soccer scientist will use in the central and attacking midfield, but odds are he returns to Fernando Torres at striker in this game.
Ramires should get the nod in the central midfield and possibly both Eden Hazard and Mata will get the call on the attack but for guys like Lampard, Oscar, Andre Schurrle, Willian, Kevin De Bruyne, David Luiz and John Obi Mikel, future starts are definitely no sure thing as it looks right now.
As far as the Postcode Battle of SW6 vs. 9AZ, it seems safer to side with the better team with higher expectations motivating them and the club with more than two players with at least two goals in Premier League play. Pretty hard to win when you can’t score, right celery breath?
Next up on Chelsea’s schedule, after West Ham is a trip to Sweden and date with FC Basel at St. Jakob-Park in UEFA Champions League play next Tuesday (Nov. 26). Basel upset the Blues, 2-1 at Stamford Bridge in the group opener and currently sits in third place (5 points), one point behind FC Schalke 04 (6 points) in Group E.
All in all, this is definitely a point in the Blues schedule where they can make it a little bit easier for themselves down the road with a nice little streak of wins in Premier League and Champions League play. But sooooo much easier typed than swiped.
PREDICTION: Chelsea 2 West Ham 0
BETS: Chelsea -280, Chelsea -1 +115
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