New Chelsea manager Rafael Benitez will finally try to pick up a win or at least score a goal on Saturday December 1 when his squad travels across London to take on West Ham at Upton Park in a big local derby. Since Benitez took over from the sacked Roberto Di Matteo he has managed two 0-0 draws, both at home at Stamford Bridge against Man City and Fulham. Chelsea fans don’t really want to see him there and it’s easy to see why as his teams have put in two mediocre and uninspired performances since he took over…not to mention boring.
Of course there’s going to be more fuel added to the fire in this derby since Benitez and Wes Ham manager Sam Allardyce don’t really get along. Come to think of it, Benitez doesn’t appear to get on with any other manager for some reason. Allardyce and the Spaniard went at it when Allardyce was in charge of Blackburn and Benitez was managing Liverpool. Allardyce said that Benitez got personal in his criticism of Blackburn and Allardyce and he doesn’t like him. He added that he’s sure Benitez feels the same way though.
Either way, this is a huge game with three precious points up for grabs. Chelsea hasn’t won in their last six matches, but still sit third in the table with 26 points from seven wins, five draws and two losses. They have scored 24 goals and allowed 13 on the season. They sit seven points behind league-leading Manchester United going into the weekend games. West Ham, who were promoted at the end of last season after spending a year in the Championship League, are in 10th place with five wins, four draws and five losses They’ve earned 19 points and have scored and allowed 16 goals.
Allardyce is hoping that striker Andy Carroll, on loan from Liverpool for the season, will be able to play after hurting his knee in a 1-0 loss to Man United on Wednesday. However, midfielder Mark Noble should be back in the squad after sitting out a suspension. Chelsea needs somebody to score as they’ve gone five hours and 21 minutes now without a goal. Of course, a lot of pressure is being put on striker Fernando Torres since he’s scored just once in about two months. In fact, Torres last scored a league goal 10 hours and 49 minutes ago, when it comes to actual playing time. Striker and England international Daniel Sturridge would definitely be a better option up front, but he might not be healthy enough to play.
Benitez will be trying to score a goal and win without the service of overrated defender David Luiz who has been suspended for picking up five yellow cards already on the season. Luiz often takes cards because he’s a poor defender who is usually caught out of position. He’s a good player with the ball, but a bad one without it. Chelsea will likely also be missing captain John Terry and England international midfielder Frank Lampard. These two players are sorely missed by Chelsea, especially Lampard as he drives the engine from midfield.
The key in this game could be Andy Carroll. If he plays then West Ham have a good chance. However, if he’s not in the lineup look for Chelsea to finally get back on the winning track.
Sportsbook Bet365 has the latest odds of a Chelsea win at even with a West Ham victory at 14/5 and a draw at 23/10.