Allardyce: Dissenting Chelsea fans can help Hammers
West Ham manager Sam Allardyce is hoping to achieve a Barclays Premier League double over European champions Chelsea and believes the Blues' supporters could actually help his side to victory at Stamford Bridge.
The atmosphere at Chelsea home games has been hostile since former Liverpool boss Rafael Benitez replaced Roberto Di Matteo as interim manager until the end of the current season.
The Hammers inflicted a 3-1 defeat on Chelsea just three games into Benitez's tenure when the fans' wrath was still at its strongest.
Now Allardyce takes his team to Stamford Bridge looking for a famous league double over their London rivals and he reckons the animosity towards Benitez can work in his side's favour.
"You can see the importance of your fans being behind you rather than not," he said.
"I think Chelsea's team has suffered at Stamford Bridge because the fans have not been fully supportive of what has happened. That is nothing to do with Rafa, he can't help that.
"He is a manager trying to do a job the best he possibly can and he's obviously got a great CV at the jobs he has done at his other clubs.
"But it shows the importance of a volatile fan base that turned the other way, what effect it can have on a team.
"In the reverse of that we all know the extra man that fans can create. You see the opposite of that at Chelsea and certainly in the early stages when Rafa took over and Chelsea suffered some poor results because of that. That's the effect the fans have on the team that plays on the field."
Allardyce, 58, has seen his side win just three league games since their comeback victory over Chelsea at Upton Park, but the ex-Newcastle manager knows his players are up for causing another shock.
"It would be our first double of the year, we've had many other opportunities that we've blown," he said.
"It would be an absolutely unbelievable result for us to win at Stamford Bridge and do the double over Chelsea in the same season. It's one of those things that happens rarely, for you to be able to beat a top side home and away.
"It's a great incentive for the lads to go out there and achieve that on Sunday."
Allardyce will be without captain Kevin Nolan after he suffered a broken toe in the home defeat to Tottenham last month, with Mark Noble (arm) also absent and Joe Cole (hamstring) a major doubt to face his old club.
Matthew Taylor is in contention after recovering from a concussion and defender George McCartney could also be involved after missing three months with a knee problem.
David Luiz is delighted at Chelsea's congested fixture schedule - as it reduces the amount of training.
The Blues play West Ham seeking to consolidate their place in the Barclays Premier League top four ahead of the international break.
The business end of the season then begins in earnest for Rafael Benitez's side, with six games in 16 days, including the FA Cup quarter-final replay with Manchester United, the Europa League last-eight tie with Russia's Rubin Kazan and three Premier League fixtures culminating in a London derby with top-four rivals Tottenham.
Luiz is unfazed by the forthcoming calendar and merely happy to be in competitive action, rather than toiling away on the training pitch.
"Personally for me it is amazing," the Brazil defender said. "I like to play games. I don't like to train, it's boring sometimes.
"I love to play games, so if I had to play every day I would want to. You need to rest sometimes but I prefer to play games than training, for sure."
If Chelsea defeat United at Stamford Bridge on Easter Monday, prevail over Rubin in Europe and go on to reach the finals of both competitions, their season would stretch to 70 fixtures.
Luiz added: "I want to play. I want to be on the pitch. Sometimes I am tired, but when I'm on the bench I'm not tired. I love to play football."
This week the momentum appears to be in Chelsea's favour after coming from two goals down to draw at Old Trafford before beating Steaua Bucharest 3-1 to overcome a first-leg deficit.
Now the focus is on the Hammers, who inflicted the first defeat of Benitez's tenure at Upton Park in December.
"I want to end this week with a great result on Sunday," Luiz said.
"It's a difficult game but we play at home and we need to win."
Benitez is again likely to rotate his squad, with former Hammers striker Demba Ba in line to return in place of Fernando Torres, who scored his second goal in 20 games, missed a penalty and suffered a bloody nose against Steaua Bucharest.
Frank Lampard, who was an unused substitute against the Romanians, could also feature against his former club with the midfielder eyeing his 200th Chelsea goal.