Chelsea midfielder Frank Lampard takes on his former club West Ham in the English Premier League. Reuters
With Arsenal slipping up at Southampton on Tuesday, Chelsea will be doubly keen to take home three points when they host struggling West Ham in the English Premier League.
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The Blues are on a terrific run of form, and are now looking as solid as ever under Jose Mourinho - an ominous sign for their opponents. Victory on Wednesday night at Stamford Bridge will take them level on points with leaders Arsenal, more than enough reason to pile further misery on a beleaguered West Ham side.
"We are playing well," Mourinho said. "The last game against Stoke [in the FA Cup] was a 1-0 but a good 1-0. There was quality individually and collectively, and we defended and pressed well also. You never know what is going to happen in the next match but the results are arriving as a consequence of the team playing very good football.
"We have to try to keep the good form we have and let things happen naturally. I've always said since the beginning of the season that the main objective this season is to build a team, and the best way to build a team is to compete for things.
"When you play Europa League there is no evolution. When you play in the Premier League, 20 points behind the leaders, no evolution. Evolution comes at the same time you build a team and you have serious competition.
"We need this. We need to be top three or four and we need to play against Manchester City only one, two or three points behind. We need to feel what the Champions League knockout is like because some of the players have only played the group stage.
"These things are coming to us so I can believe next season we are going to be a really strong team from day one."
Chelsea are certainly starting to look like the real deal, unbeaten in seven league games, six of them wins, and with Eden Hazard and Oscar looking in the mood of late, West Ham could be in for a long evening in West London.
"West Ham are in trouble in the table but I look at them and I feel a difficult match," Mourinho added. "They have new players, and they have had time to work and rest from the difficult Christmas period they had, especially because they had so many injured players."
For West Ham, with cup competitions out of the way, it is all about survival. The Hammers are currently third bottom in the standings, level on points with bottom side Cardiff and second from bottom Sunderland, and Sam Allardyce, after making a couple of key acquisitions earlier this week, is determined to try and get something from Stamford Bridge.
"We can't go to Chelsea and lie down," Allardyce said. "We can't go to Chelsea and think that we're not going to get a result. When all said and done, West Bromwich Albion should have beaten Chelsea this season.
"In a one-off game, if you play to your best and Chelsea aren't functioning at their best, then you can get to the end result like West Brom did. It can be achieved at any one time in any one game and we've got to believe that it can be achieved."
Team news: Chelsea: Fernando Torres is ruled out with Marco Van Ginkel a long-term absentee. New signing Mohamed Salah will not be involved having not linked up with the squad as yet. Nemanja Matic, after impressing against Stoke, could be in line to make his first start in the Premier League for Chelsea after making his move from Benfica earlier this month.
West Ham: Italian internationals Marco Borriello and Antonio Nocerino were signed up by Allardyce a couple of days ago, and the two players could go straight into the squad on Wednesday. Former Chelsea midfielder Joe Cole, however, is ruled out, along with defender Winston Reid, who will not be considered despite returning to training this week.
Key men: Chelsea: Eden Hazard has come to the fore recently for the Blues and is slowly but surely beginning to look like a world-beater that many hoped he would be when he signed for big money from Lille.
West Ham: Andy Carroll's return to fitness has been a huge boost to Allardyce, and the burly striker's physicality could test the Chelsea defence.
Expected lineups: Chelsea: Cech; Ivanovic, Cahill, Terry, Azpilicueta, Matic, Ramires; Willian, Oscar, Hazard; Eto'o.
West Ham: Adrian; O'Brien, Johnson, Collins, Rat; Noble, Diame; Downing, Nolan, Jarvis; Carroll.
Prediction: 2-0 to Chelsea
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