Chelsea’s midfield must be neutralised if West Ham are to succeed
PUBLISHED: 12:09 22 April 2011
PA Wire/Press Association Images
West Ham have tough job on their hands at Stamford Bridge
Chelsea boss Carlo Ancelotti has resigned himself to the sack after a season which will surely see them give up their title and once again fail to capture the Champions League.
Last season the Italian won the double in his first season, but never one for patience, it is likely owner Roman Abramovich is likely to wield the axe, with the Blues set to go trophy less for only the second time since he bought the club in 2003.
“I know football. I know clubs sometimes want to change the manager,” Ancelotti said before his side beat West Brom 3-1 at the Hawthorns on Saturday.
“There are a lot of people saying my future will not be here next season, but I’m not sure about this. We have to wait until the end of the season.”
It seems stability is lost on Abramovich and it seems ironic that the signing of Fernando Torres played a part in their poor campaign.
Purchased by the owner for £50m in the January transfer window, there is little doubt the Russian owner has insisted Ancelotti to play the goalless front man at the expense of Didier Drogba, Chelsea’s best striker since he joined the club.
His form has dipped this season and usually well beyond 20 goals at this stage of the season he has only scored 13.
However his latest strike came against United in their Champions League contest and his appearance at the break at the expense of Torres showed how important he is.
He gave Chelsea a focal point, something missing under Torres and it is likely he will start at Stamford Bridge this Saturday.
He is likely to be flanked by Nicholas Anelka and Florent Malouda who have both struggled to rediscover their impressive form last season, but are still extremely dangerous if they are allowed to run at full backs.
Former Hammers Frank Lampard has had an injur-ravaged campaign but looked more at home at the head of a diamond, a position he played in against United, while Michael Essien and Ramires both impressed in defeat and their box-to-box abilities will be key for the Blues this weekend.
Alex and John Terry are an extremely solid pairing at the back, but it will be interesting to see if they can compete with the strength of Hammers’ striker Carlton Cole.
Ashley Cole continues to be one of the world’s finest full backs and was named in the PFA team of the year, while the will be an equal amount of attacking thrust from the other full back through Jose Bosingwa.
Negating Chelsea’s midfield three will be a tough task, especially if Grant lines his team up in a 4-4-2 formation and the likely absence of Scott Parker will give the hosts’ a massive advantage.
Out wide West Ham continue to struggle to stop crosses and with Chelsea’s abilities out wide, it will be essential whoever plays out wide helps out their full backs.
West ham have struggled to create chances of late and with no forward in particularly good goal scoring form, this game could be a struggle for the Hammers.