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Chelsea host Hammers as last year’s result lingers in memory

Having been top at Christmas, Chelsea begin their task to still be there in May and start with West Ham United at home this Boxing Day, and will be aiming to avoid a repeat of the same fixture from last term, when the Hammers held the Blues to a stalemate.

Jose Mourinho’s men are odds-on at 1/3 with Coral to take all three points at Stamford Bridge. The Portuguese boss was heavily critical of West Ham’s tactics last season, with Chelsea struggling to break their visitors down.

It is a different story this campaign. Sam Allardyce’s men sit in fourth; an unbelievable accomplishment, and are playing a completely different brand of football, more in line with what we have been used to seeing from the west London outfit.

Andy Carroll, 7/2 to net anytime, will be the battering ram that Chelsea’s rearguard are certain to no doubt try and isolate. He relies on crosses and long balls so John Terry and Gary Cahill need to be switched on, though will relish the physical battle with the centre forward. Even more so will Nemanja Matic, who is going to be key to resisting the Hammers’ attack.

Chelsea need an early goal, just like last time out against Stoke City, when Terry put them ahead on the second minute. This will help to settle the crowd, who could turn restless the longer the match stays goalless, with last year’s result no doubt still in fresh in the memory.

Their influential skipper is 8/1 to dispatch anytime, while Diego Costa can deliver with odds of 11/4 to net first, and as Manchester City’s Sergio Aguero is injured, he can end this year as the Premier League’s top scorer.

Cesc Fabregas secured all three points in a hard fought 2-0 win at the Britannia, and is 2/1 in the anytime market. For the Hammers, top scorer Diafra Sakho, who has eight goals across all competitions and seven in the Premier League, is 9/1 to net first.

The visitors’ best tactic would be to use Carroll as a distraction to allow Sakho to do what he does best. Monopolising both centre backs will free up the Senegal striker, as well as Ecuadorian Enner Valencia who can also keep Chelsea’s resistance busy, and is 10/3 to net anytime.