LONDON (Sporting Alert) — Leaders Chelsea return to action in the English Premier League against West Ham United on Wednesday at Upton Park.
Jose Mourinho’s side was inactive in the league over the weekend because of its participation in the Capital One Cup.
The Blues lead the table standings with 60 points, five more than second place Manchester City, who failed to close the gap after losing to Liverpool at the weekend.
Mourinho is expected to make changes for this competition, but midfielder Nemanja Matic is still not available for selection as he completes his two-match suspension for his dismissal against Burnley.
Fellow midfielder John Obi Mikel is also expected to miss out as he continues to recover from a knee problem.
Meanwhile, West Ham boss Sam Allardyce will be without Morgan Amalfitano, who is still suspended after he was dismissed against West Brom last month in the FA Cup.
Target forward Andy Carroll is out of this game, as expected with knee troubles, while the club will give fellow striker Carlton Cole an early fitness test to see if he is over his hamstring problem.
Chelsea have the chance to go eight points clear at the top if other results go in their favour and Brazilian hard-working midfielder Ramires, who made his full Blues debut at this venue in 2010, is bracing for another challenging atmosphere on and off the pitch.
“Upton Park is a nice stadium, a quality pitch and I have some great memories of playing there,’ Ramires told www.chelseafc.com.
“I know there is a big rivalry between the supporters and it’s a classic fixture, a big London derby, but it’s the players on the pitch who decide the outcome of the game.
“Their fans can roar and apply the pressure on us, but we have a good record there, I don’t remember too many defeats. We feel comfortable and we’re looking forward to it.”
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Chelsea come into this game, in the meantime, with a good record against West Ham in the last 17 outings — having won 13 of those contests and losing just once.
The Hammers have also been goal shy in this fixture, after failing to score five of their last six English Premier League head-to-head clashes.
In fact, Chelsea have kept clean sheets in the last four EPL meetings against West Ham United.
Man City Need A Win
Defending champions and second place Manchester City take on Leicester City on Wednesday night, and club manager Manuel Pellegrini is hoping for a positive reaction from his side after losing to Liverpool on Sunday.
The Citizens were beaten 2-1 at Anfield in the last outing and Pellegrini and his players were heavily criticized for their lack of creativity in the final third.
It is still not sure if January recruit Wilfried Bony will start the game, but the fans have certainly been crying for the boss to give the Ivory Coast forward his debut start.
Bony has made three appearances, all from off the bench — since joining the club from Swansea City.
Leicester, meanwhile, sit at the base of the English Premier League table and manager Nigel Pearson will be hoping that his squad can start turning things around.
In other games on Wednesday, third place Arsenal will travel to Loftus Road Stadium to face QPR, fourth place Manchester United are at Newcastle United, Tottenham take on Swansea at White Hart Lane, while the inform Liverpool, fresh off their win against Man City, host Burnley at Anfield.
Wednesday 4 March 2015
2:45 Manchester City v Leicester at Etihad Stadium
2:45 Newcastle v Manchester United at St. James’ Park
2:45 QPR v Arsenal at Loftus Road Stadium
2:45 Stoke v Everton at Britannia Stadium
2:45 Tottenham v Swansea at White Hart Lane
2:45 West Ham v Chelsea at Boleyn Ground
3:00 Liverpool v Burnley at Anfield