West Ham v Chelsea preview

24 April 2009 11:37
West Ham will be chasing their first win over London rivals Chelsea since a Paulo Di Canio strike separated the two sides back in 2003.

Chelsea had been on a run of six straight victories over the Hammers since then, but ex-Blue Gianfranco Zola halted that run earlier in the season when his side earned a 1-1 draw at Stamford Bridge.

In the lead up to that clash in December, West Ham were languishing in 16th place. But after enjoying a significant reversal of fortune, the Hammers are now up to 7th and pushing for a Europa League spot.

Chelsea on the other hand saw their league ambitions dashed in midweek when they failed to overcome Everton at home, leaving Guus Hiddink's men six points behind Manchester United and having played a game more.

Team newsThe Dutchman may now opt to turn to his squad players in order to keep his side fresh for the crunch UEFA Champions League semi-final tie with Barcelona on Tuesday.

John Obi Mikel and Franco di Santo could both be in line to start, while Salomon Kalou should be recalled from his substitute role in the previous two games.

Michael Essien is likely to be given a break after enduring a demanding return from the six-month lay-off that he suffered earlier in the season.

Chelsea's biggest problems lie at the back though, with Ricardo Carvalho struggling from a hamstring strain, Jose Bosingwa still missing and Ashley Cole unlikely to be risked for the game with a minor injury.

With Cole also suspended for the first-leg tie with Barcelona, Juliano Belletti or Michael Mancienne may be given the chance to state their case at left-back, in the likelihood that Alex is preferred in the centre.

Hammers newsWest Ham will have to do without former Blue Scott Parker who remains sidelined with a groin injury, but Radoslav Kovac could return from a thigh strain to feature.

Jonathan Spector is also on his way back after suffering concussion earlier in the month, while James Collins is a doubt with a calf injury that could rule him out.

Up front the partnership of David Di Michele and Diego Tristan may well be retained after an impressive showing against Aston Villa, and the midfield is likely to remain unchanged with no new injury worries to contend with.

Otherwise, long-term absentees Carlton Cole, Valon Behrami and Jack Collison remain unavailable.

Possible starting XI's:West Ham: Green, Tomkins, Upson, Collins, Ilunga, Neill, Boa Morte, Stanislas, Noble, Di Michele, Tristan.

Chelsea: Cech, Ivanovic, Alex, Terry, Belletti, Ballack, Mikel, Lampard, di Santo, Kalou, Malouda.

Source: SKY_Sports