Who: Chelsea FC vs. West Ham United FC
What: English Premier League Week 23
Where: Stamford Bridge, West London, England, United Kingdom
When: Wednesday, January 29, 2014
Weather: The Weather Channel forecast Stamford Bridge
Time: 19:45 GMT/2:45 p.m. ET/11:45 a.m. PT
TV: NBC Sports Live Extra, DirecTV (US)
Worldwide Livestreams and TV Channels: LiveSoccerTV.com
Radio: TalkSport Radio
Referee: Neil Swarbrick
3-Way Odds: Chelsea -500, West Ham +1400, Draw +550
Total: Over 2½ -210, Under 2½ +160
Decimal Odds: Chelsea 1.20, West Ham 15.00, Draw 6.50
Decimal Total: Over 2½ 1.48, Under 2½ 2.60
Fractional Odds: Chelsea 1/5, West Ham 14/1, Draw 11/2
Fractional Total: Over 2½ 10/21, Under 2½ 8/5
Alternate Odds: Chelsea -1½ -185, West Ham +1½ +145
Chelsea -2 -110, West Ham +2 -110
Chelsea -2½ +145, West Ham +2½ -185
Over 3½ +125, Under 3½ -185
Over 4½ +275, Under 4½ -400
Source: Bovada (Kahnawake, Canada)
3-Way Odds: Chelsea -2 -110, West Ham +2 -110
Total: Over 3 -119, Under 3 +109
Source: Pinnacle Sports (Curacao, Netherlands Antilles)
Chelsea will look to keep its perfect 2014 going on Wednesday when it welcomes West Ham United to Stamford Bridge in Week 23 of English Premier League play.
So far the year has been pretty darn good to the Blues, who have gone 5-0-0, allowing just one goal—to Manchester United’s Javier Hernandez in a 3-1 home win on Jan. 19—and registering four clean sheets in their last five games between goalkeepers Petr Cech and Mark Schwarzer.
The 41-year-old Schwarzer was in goal in West London on Sunday as Chelsea advanced to the fifth round of the FA Cup with a 1-0 win over Stoke City, courtesy of a brilliant first-half free-kick goal by Brazilian midfielder Oscar.
The Blues' luck for the day was obviously exhausted with the victory over the Potters, as later in the day Chelsea ended up drawing Manchester City away at the Etihad Stadium in the next round—ironic as manager Jose Mourinho was hoping to avoid a draw with Stoke on Sunday in order to avoid a replay and a potential two-day earlier rescheduling of the showdown with the Sky Blues in Premier League play. Got that?
So Chelsea will still play at City on Feb. 3 (Monday) in what will be one of the most highly anticipated games in England’s top flight of football this season, and then the Blues will return to Mancunia two weeks later to again dance with Yaya Toure and the 2012 champions on either Feb. 15 or 16 in a really cruel FA Cup draw for both clubs, but more so for the traveling Blues.
But before all this coming Two Shades of Blue Drama stuff, the third-place royal blue-clad Europa League champions (15-4-3, 49 points) have a hump day date with 18th-place West Ham (4-6-12, 18 points), a team which is wallowing in the relegation zone and hoping for a good spring in order to stay up in the big league.
In order to try to attain that goal, the Hammers and manager Sam Allardyce have gone out and got Serie A duo Marco Borriello (AS Roma) and Antonio Nocerino (AC Milan) on loan until the end of the season. But when the season is more than halfway over and your two leading scorers only have four (Carlton Cole) and three goals (Joe Cole, Ravel Morrison) and you’re tied for last in the EPL in points, well, you do what you can, brother.
For West Ham right now, simply finishing safely above the relegation would make the entire season feel like a win.
Over at Stamford Bridge, Chelsea is still waiting for the dust to settle from the sale of two-time club Player of the Year Juan Mata to defending league champions Manchester United over the weekend but playing such superb defense, the Blues probably won’t miss a beat here and should have a field day against Kevin Nolan and their East London neighbors.
Chelsea has owned the series as of late, going 7-2-1 over the last 10 (23-7 goals) and notching five clean sheets along the way, thanks to the defense and the ever-underrated gentle giant Cech. In this fixture last season in SW6, the Blues nailed the Hammers, 2-0, while in this season’s first meeting over at Upton Park, Chelsea rolled to an easy 3-0 victory as Oscar had a goal sandwiched by a Frank Lampard brace.
And it may not quite be of the proportions of Buster Douglas upsetting Mike Tyson, but a West Ham (+1400) win over the home team here would be one of the bigger stories in the Premier League so far this season and although clicking, the Blues offense still hasn’t proven it can put opponents away early enough to keep The Special One from giving them that special little 80-minute mark “C’mon now, guys” grimace. You know the one.
I can only wonder where Jose Mario Mourinho, Jr. hides his report card from daddy when the poor teenager has to bring home a “disappointing” B+ in History or something. And I’ll bet Mourinho has taught his dog to go out and fetch the morning newspaper, bring it in and put it on the kitchen table and open it to the sports page by now...without drooling on it. Magnifico, Fido.
Along with luck, logic is probably the most important thing when betting on sports, and with Chelsea unbeaten in its last eight games overall (7-1-0, 14-2 goals), unbeaten at Stamford Bridge (10-1-0, 25 goals for, 9 goals against) and having never lost under Mourinho at home in league play, just have to back the Blues here in a match that could very well see the home team erupt for a number of goals in front of the frenzied crowd.
With so many players who can put the ball in the back of the net like Eden Hazard (eight goals), Oscar (six), Samuel Eto’o (six), Lampard (four), Fernando Torres (four) and Andre Schurrle (three) and a defense which has allowed just two goals all winter, opponents lately have found it hard to crack Chelsea.
Toss in some a couple of new parts eager to show they can contribute in defensive midfielder Nemanja Matic (Benfica) and attacking midfielder Mohamed Salah (FC Basel) and Chelsea is truly a team to watch from this point on in all competitions and behind torrid City, is the second-hottest club in terms of form in the EPL right now and an automatic bet-on unless playing the Sky Blues.
The Blues are 8-3 to the Over at Stamford Bridge this season and with so many shots hitting the woodwork lately, I see luck suddenly going Chelsea’s way, the ball finding the net fairly easily here and West Ham goalkeeper Jussi Jaaskelainen reaching for the antacids at halftime. How do you say heartburn in Finnish, herring-breath? Närästys? I guess I’m not saying it. Hey, spread the wealth with those Tums there, JJ. My stomach is talking to me too.
With the Blues renowned defense holding it down like nobody’s business and everyone wanting to impress the new manager and not be the reason the team finally loses, I expect a computer-like effort from the home side and a thrashing of the Hammers with Hazard, Eto’o, Ramires, Lampard and possibly even Torres scoring if things really get out of hand.
As mentioned, the toughest Premier League game on Chelsea's schedule is up next at second-place Manchester City (16-2-4, 50 points) next Monday (NBC Sports Network, 3 p.m. ET/12 p.m. PT) in what could be the EPL win of the year for the Blues if they can somehow find a way to beat the mighty Citizens, one the toughest teams at home (11-0-0, 42 goals for, 8 goals against) in all of professional sports.
PREDICTION: Chelsea 4 West Ham United 0
BETS: Chelsea -1½ -185, Chelsea -2 -110, Over 2½ -210
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