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Chelsea vs. West Ham United: Match Preview

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Not playing: Inter-galactic superhero Scott Parker
Not playing: Inter-galactic superhero Scott Parker

Chelsea look to keep the momentum going when relegation-threatened West Ham United come to Stamford Bridge, although with Didier Drogba possibly being rested it'll be interesting to see how that all works out. The Blues need a win to keep the pressure up on second place Arsenal (and if my some miracle Manchester United drop points at home to Everton, winning would catapult us back into the title race), but there's no real reason we can't get it tomorrow.

Chelsea played West Ham at Upton Park int he fourth game of the season, winning 3-1 (and conceding their first goal of the season in the process thanks to a lovely effort from Scott Parker. The inspirational midfielder won't be taking the field at Stamford Bridge, however, thanks to an Achilles injury that also kept him out of last wee's 2-1 home loss to Aston Villa. That, of course, is very good news for Chelsea fans - Parker's been exceptionally good in the last few months ad him being absent is going to be a huge blow for the Hammers.

The problem with Chelsea switching back to a 4-3-3 is that I can't really spend very much time demanding that we switch back to a 4-3-3 anymore, and since I'm pretty sure that I can't get away with writing three-paragraph previews that makes my job significantly harder. So let's have a think about how Chelsea are going to handle the rumour de jour - Didier Drogba being rested and Fernando Torres coming in.

Drogba has been the We Ain't Got No History man of the match for the last two games, almost signle-handedly destroying West Bromwich Albion at the Hawthorns before causing havoc in the Birmingham City back lines on Wednesday. Torres, on the other hand, has been not as good - although crucially we still haven't seen him operating as the lone striker in a 4-3-3 yet, something which might be just his cup of tea.

One of the interesting things about Didier Drogba is that he forces opposing defences to play a fairly high line due to his ability to abuse them in the air when he's not plagued by malaria, which is the exact opposite of how they would deal with Fernando Torres in an ideal world - he's at his best when running into space from deep, so defences sit back more against him to give him less room to operate without the threat of him bringing the ball down in a dangerous position. If we do see Torres tomorrow, watch where Avram Grant sets up his defensive line. It'll be interesting.

Of course, there's the possibility that Carlo Ancelotti simply doesn't bother resting anyone and goes with the hit hand. Alex and Ramires are both out, but Jose Bosingwa and Ashley Cole are fit and ready to play - if I were managing the side there is basically no way I'd be changing much about it right now, although I would be looking to get Yossi Benayoun and Torres on the pitch as soon as possible after the result was safe (which should be fairly early). That said, I'm not sure how tired some of the players are from having multiple matches this week.

Preferred Lineup (4-3-3): Petr Cech; Ashley Cole, John Terry, David Luiz, Jose Bosingwa; John Obi Mikel, Frank Lampard, Michael Essien; Florent Malouda, Didier Drogba, Salomon Kalou.

Pretty boring, eh? Well, I kind of enjoy boring, as long as it means a comfortable Chelsea win. I'm going with 3-0. What think you?