Thankless task – or wonderful opportunity to rise?

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After the international break what better way to try and get your first points of the season than a home game against the league champions Chelsea?

West Ham’s start to the season has been tough so far with three defeats, nine goals conceded, one goal scored and a missed penalty leaving them rooted to the bottom of the table.

And with the press speculating over Avram Grant’s future already, the weekend clash against his ex-employers is the hardest test the Hammers could of wanted.

Chelsea have started fast out of the blocks, winning all three games and scoring it seems at will, so you would expect the Hammers to take a beating, and possibly a large one at that.

The last five meetings against Chelsea at Upton Park have resulted in defeats with the visitors scoring 16 goals with only one for the Hammers. You have to go back to 2003 to the last time West Ham beat Chelsea at home, Paulo di Canio scoring as Trevor Brooking’s team tried to stay in the Premier League.

So things don’t look good for Avram. He will still be without Thomas Hitzlsperger who was injured on international duty before the season started but he does have two late arrivals to his squad in the reckoning. Danish right back Lars Jacobson and Nigerian forward Victor Obinna will be in contention tomorrow.

I would expect Jacobson to start the game as it is in defence in that West Ham are weakest; whilst Obinna will probably have to settle for a spot on the bench as I expect Grant will stay loyal to Carlton Cole.

I would like to see Kieron Dyer given a free role behind Cole as he still has a burst of pace that may unsettle Chelsea’s back line.

In midfield, Scott Parker and Mark Noble should retain their places in the centre with the Mexican Pablo Barrera out left and Julien Faubert on the right.

Again both the wingers have pace to burn but perhaps their final ball could be improved as Cole may testify, apart from the opening 45 minutes against Bolton the service to the front line has been non-existent.

The defence is the problem area, short of confidence and lack of pace; Tal Ben Haim should come in to make his league debut against one of his old clubs alongside Matthew Upson with Herita Illunga on the left.

For me this is not a must win game but I hope to see a good performance that may give the players confidence in their ability which I feel they are lacking. It’s been well documented about West Ham’s hard start to the season and the fact that they are bottom with no points does not surprise me.

The one bright note this week has been Scott Parker signing a new contact to stay at the club until at least 2014 with the option of an extra year after that.

The views in this article are that of the writer and may not replicate those of the Professional Footballers' Association.

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