West Ham Vs Chelsea: Big Match preview

Published Add your comment

Football News

West Ham welcome back Matthew Upson from injury for Sunday's Barclays Premier League match at home to Chelsea at Upton Park.

The England defender has recovered from a hamstring problem and comes back into the heart of what has been a leaky Hammers rearguard this season.

Forward Luis Jimenez also returns from a muscle strain but Carlton Cole (knee ligaments), Valon Behrami, Zavon Hines (both knee) and Kieron Dyer (hamstring) are still out.

West Ham boss Gianfranco Zola heads into his first managerial confrontation with Carlo Ancelotti insisting he harbours no grudges from his compatriot's decision to sell him as a player 13 years ago.

Ancelotti, the current Chelsea manager, was Parma coach in 1996 when he agreed to offload Zola, who was short on confidence after playing a key role in Italy's early departure from the European Championships that year.

Zola moved to Chelsea for #4.5million and his career was rejuvenated, the forward going on to become a Blues legend in his seven years at the club.

Zola is currently experiencing difficult times as Hammers boss, with the club second from bottom heading into the weekend, but it is nothing compared to the miserable spell he endured in his last few months at Parma under Ancelotti.

"It was the lowest point of my career," Zola said.

"Euro 96 was a big blow for me. I invested so much emotionally in that experience and it did not go very well. It affected me a lot.

"Carlo was very good to me but it was just me - I could not find a way to react. I wanted to have another experience so I don't blame him. It just happened.

"I was going through a bad time, the Chelsea opportunity came and it proved to be one of the best choices in my career."

Zola has cut a forlorn figure over the past few weeks, with the Hammers having lost three matches in a row to slip into the relegation zone.

The recent defeats to Birmingham and Bolton have hit the popular Italian especially hard, but he is determined not to let his club's plight get him down.

"I'm dealing with it. Losing to Manchester United can happen but I know that the other two games we lost were painful," he said.

"They belong to the past and if you keep switching to the past it doesn't help the situation.

"We have a massive game against Chelsea. The focus and energy has to be on that."

Striker Didier Drogba is fit again and set to return to the Chelsea team.

The Ivory Coast international has recovered from the back injury which kept him out of the side that beat Portsmouth 2-1 at Stamford Bridge on Wednesday night.

Ricardo Carvalho is expected to replace Alex in defence while Joe Cole will come in for Deco. Jose Bosingwa (knee) and Michael Essien (hamstring) are sidelined.

Chelsea midfielder Yuri Zhirkov insists the best is yet to come after finally getting fit since his move from CSKA Moscow.

Zhirkov has enjoyed a growing involvement in recent weeks, shaking off the knee problem that held him back after his July transfer and displaying glimpses of his ability as an energetic and skilful wide player, equally comfortable on the front or back foot.

The Russian will be hoping for another slice of action against West Ham as Chelsea seek to retain a three-point lead at the top of the Barclays Premier League table.

"After the transfer there was an injury so I am very happy now to be able to play," said Zhirkov.

"For about one month I was out of training and it was hard psychologically. It wasn't fun.

A debut against AC Milan in a Baltimore friendly in pre-season saw him score the winner in a 2-1 success, but that was the last Chelsea fans saw of him until September and a competitive debut against QPR in the Carling Cup.

Zhirkov admits it has been a frustrating time.

"This is always the case when you try to get back into the game as soon as possible," said Zhirkov.

"You think you are recovered fully but then you go on the pitch and still feel the pain, so you have to go off.

"That's what happened in this case, the intention was to get back into the game as soon as possible. The head is there to play but the legs do not always follow."

Copyright (c) PA Sport 2009, All Rights Reserved.

Do YOU want to write for GiveMeSport? Get started today by signing-up and submitting an article HERE:

Premier League
West Ham United

Article Comments

Read more

Report author of article

Please let us know if you believe this article is in violation of our editorial policy, please only report articles for one of the following reasons.

Report author


This article has been written by a member of the GiveMeSport Writing Academy and does not represent the views of or SportsNewMedia. The views and opinions expressed are solely that of the author credited at the top of this article. and SportsNewMedia do not take any responsibility for the content of its contributors.

Want more content like this?

Like our GiveMeSport Facebook Page and you will get this directly to you.

Already Subscribed to Facebook, don't ask me again

Follow GiveMeSport on Twitter and you will get this directly to you.

Already Following, don't ask me again

Like our GiveMeSport Page and you will get this directly to you.

Already Subscribed to G+, don't ask me again