The stage is set for Alex Song to recapture the scintillating form that orchestrated West Ham’s victories over Manchester City and Liverpool earlier in the campaign.
With just one win since Christmas, falling from an unprecedented fourth to a more apt ninth, the Hammers are in desperate need of three points. With Chelsea coming to town, though, fresh from their League Cup triumph, a big performance from their star man will be required.
Song has been poor in the last few matches and West Ham have suffered as a result; the Barcelona loanee needs to rekindle his early season form if they are to stand any chance against Jose Mourinho’s outfit.
The 27-year-old seems to come alive in the big matches and his performance in the 2-1 win over the reigning Premier League champions back in October was incredible. When he’s playing to the best of his ability the whole team is given a lift and in turn are capable of beating anyone.
On the other hand however, when Song is off his game, like in the 3-1 defeat to Crystal Palace last time out, it can prove costly and if he misplaces as many passes against Chelsea the Hammers will be punished for it.
The visitors may opt to rotate their squad following their cup victory over Tottenham on Sunday, while the influential Nemanja Matic is set to serve the final game of his two-match ban.
Matic is a formidable force in the middle of the park and there is no doubt he’s a big loss to this Chelsea side, the Irons must take advantage of his absence.
With Song keeping the side ticking over, picking out passes and getting the ball forward, Cheikhou Kouyate, Mark Noble and Stewart Downing will be charged with making runs and stretching the Blues.
Downing is one who has particularly suffered since Song’s dip in form as he has been unable to get on the ball as much, but if the Cameroonian is on his game and with no Matic patrolling the midfield, then we should see the best of Downing, which has been devastating at times this season.
But, which Alex Song turns up at the Boleyn Ground tonight could be the deciding factor in what West Ham take out of this match: points or a thumping.