Chelsea welcome in-form West Ham to Stamford Bridge ton Boxing Day (today) at the start of a busy three-match schedule over the festive season for Premier League clubs.
The Blues restored their three-point lead over Manchester City at the top of the Premier League table after a hard-fought 2-0 victory at Stoke on Monday evening.
John Terry gave Chelsea the lead after just 90 seconds when he headed home Cesc Fabregas’ corner, as the Spain midfielder posted his 12th assist in 17 league matches. Both sides missed chances to score before the influential Fabregas sealed victory for the Londoners 12 minutes from time with a scuffed shot after being set up by Eden Hazard.
Blues manager Jose Mourinho hailed his side’s performance at the Britannia Stadium.
“It’s a victory that means a bit more than the three points, not just because it’s difficult but because to win here you need to put more than just your quality in,” he told his club’s website. “The players were together, they coped well with a difficult style and were not afraid to have responsibility.
“Our creative players were not afraid to assume the game and create, our defensive players were very solid, so only with a great team performance is it possible to be successful against Stoke.”
The Blues are perfect at home in the Premier League this season with eight wins from eight matches while outscoring opponents 20-3 at Stamford Bridge.
After playing West Ham, Chelsea travel to Southampton on Sunday before finishing their festive fixtures with a match at Tottenham on New Year’s Day.
West Ham extended their unbeaten run to five league matches with a comfortable 2-0 win against bottom-club Leicester City at Upton Park last weekend, receiving goals from Andy Carroll and Stewart Downing.
Saturday’s victory allowed the Hammers to maintain fourth place, 11 points behind leaders Chelsea.
Carroll is now fully fit after prolonged injury problems, and the striker is making his presence felt up front for the Hammers, while midfielder Downing is currently playing some of the best football of his career and has been recalled to the England set-up.
Hammers boss Sam Allardyce is relishing the prospect of playing back-to-back London derbies against Chelsea and Arsenal, whom the east Londoners face at Upton Park on Sunday.
“It’s a nice time to be playing Chelsea and Arsenal,” he told his club’s website. “They’re two tough games but we have earned the right to have a go at both of them.
“The cream on top of our cake this season has been the wins over Manchester City and Liverpool so we know we’re capable of getting something from these games.”
West Ham’s final match of the holiday season is a home match against West Bromwich Albion on Jan. 1.
Blues playmaker Hazard is doubtful after injuring an ankle at Stoke, while Hammers midfielder Mark Noble faces a late fitness test after missing the victory over Leicester with a calf problem.
Chelsea’s record against West Ham in recent seasons is excellent with 13 wins, three draws and only one defeat in their last 17 league and cup matches. The Hammers got one of those draws last season in the corresponding fixture with a scoreless deadlock and haven’t scored in their last 330 minutes of league play at Stamford Bridge.
Source: ScoreMobile FC