Riding the momentum of their Capital One Cup victory, Chelsea enters their Premier League matchup against ninth-place West Ham United on Wednesday at Upton Park with a solid five-point lead and a manager who has never lost to the Hammers.
Now in his second stint with the Blues, Jose Mourinho has never tasted defeat to West Ham. On Boxing Day, Chelsea had little trouble with the Hammers, 2-0. In their last meeting at Upton Park in Nov. 2013, Mourinho's squad cruised to a victory, 3-0.
Chelsea maintains a decent lead over second-place Manchester City after they failed to close out against Liverpool over the weekend and the Blues could widen the gap further with a victory against West Ham, though City simultaneously face a weak Leicester City squad.
Manager Sam Allardyce’s West Ham side has slipped in their last five Premier League matches, having failed to claim a victory since Jan. 12 against Hull. With a win, the Hammers could leapfrog Swansea for eighth place and put some pressure on seventh-place Tottenham as the term winds down.
Even with forward Carlton Cole likely to sit out again with an ankle injury and midfielder Morgan Amalfitano still suspended, a West Ham victory isn't completely far-fetched given Chelsea's disappointing 1-1 result against Burnley on Feb. 21 at Stamford Bridge. Chelsea often seem invincible, but have provided some rather uninspiring efforts on the road this season as evident by their losses to Newcastle and Tottenham, and a frustrating draw against Sunderland.
Still, the Blues remain a heavy favorite, given forward Diego Costa’s goal-scoring prowess and midfielder Eden Hazard's exceptional vision.
And should West Ham’s likely strategy of limiting Costa and Hazard work, those two can sit back and let midfielder Cesc Fabregas pick apart the backline like he has for 15 assists this term.
West Ham will counter with a rather balanced group of forwards, with Diafro Sakho accounting for nine scores, and Andy Carroll another five, while midfielder Stewart Downing seeks his sixth goal of the term since that last victory against Hull.
Kickoff Time: 2:45 P.M. ET
TV Channel: NBC Sports via Premier League Extra Time package here
Live Stream: NBC Sports Live Extra here
Prediction: Chelsea over West Ham, 2-0