Blues can keep another clean sheet in a London derby
In the good old days, players and officials would probably have hit the town after winning a major domestic trophy at Wembley.
But we’d pretty much guarantee that most of the Chelsea staff were tucked up in bed just a few hours after they’d beaten Tottenham Hotspur in the Capital One Cup Final as, just over 72 hours later, they have a vital Premier League fixture at West Ham.
It was a very, very good weekend for the Blues! Not only did they beat Spurs but title rivals Manchester City were beaten at Liverpool meaning that the champions, who play Leicester at the same time as Chelsea take the field at Upton Park, are still five points adrift and have played a game more.
Jose Mourinho banned television from the hotel and team bus before the final at Wembley to prevent his players from being distracted by City’s result against Liverpool but you can’t keep something like that quiet.
Mourinho is refusing to rule anybody out of the title race and says that even third-placed Manchester United, as well as Arsenal and Liverpool, aren’t too far behind the top two. But much of that is bluster as, with only a dozen games remaining, his side are firmly in the driver’s seat.
There has been a transition among the Chelsea ranks this season but it has been almost seamless. Diego Costa and Cesc Fabregas have been successful signings while the likes of Willian and Kurt Zouma have come to the fore in the last six months.
Stalwarts John Terry and Branislav Ivanovic are playing as well as ever and their side has an impressive record against West Ham – they’ve won 13 of the last 17 meetings between the sides and only lost once. Under Mourinho, their record reads even better with six wins and a draw so the Blues have to be backed at 8/13 with no hangover expected from the cup final.
The knives are out again at Upton Park for Sam Allardyce. Saturday’s 3-1 home defeat by 10-man Crystal Palace ended in the Hammers being booed off the pitch by their own fans. The Hammers’ season is effectively over already following a five-match winless run.
They also crashed out of the FA Cup in humiliating fashion at West Brom, though did enough in the first half of the season to make relegation an unlikely prospect.
Andy Carroll is injured again and the goals have dried up for West Ham – they’ve only scored in one of their last six and never really troubled Chelsea at Stamford Bridge on Boxing Day.
Chelsea, who have a week off after this game ahead of their Champions League tie with PSG, are 6/5 to keep another clean sheet.
The match kicks off at 7.45pm on Wednesday, March 4 at Upton Park.