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Fan v Fan: West Ham and Chelsea fans on contrasting fortunes, season ambitions and Boleyn memories

22 Oct | BY Betway | MIN READ TIME |
Fan v Fan: West Ham and Chelsea fans on contrasting fortunes, season ambitions and Boleyn memories

The view from the stands ahead of the first big London derby of Upton Park's farewell year

In celebration of the final year at Upton Park, we’ll be chatting to fans – home and away – ahead of every Premier League match played at the famous East London ground this season.

This week, Hugh, founder of Hammers fansite Claret and Hugh, and Blues fan Matt, of Chelsea FC Blog, give us the fans’ view ahead of Saturday’s clash…

Nine games in and West Ham have been arguably the surprise package of the season so far. What’s been the secret of their success?

Hugh: A more flexible tactical approach and a deeper squad, with some outstanding buys – Dmitri Payet the main man.

Matt: There’s definitely numerous factors but their away form has been incredible (beating Liverpool, Man City and Arsenal already in their own back yards).

They’ve made some shrewd signings too and are also likely seeing some benefit from the ‘new manager’ effect.

For the Blues, on the other hand, a less than stellar opening to the season. What exactly is going on down at the Bridge? Is it really as bad as is being made out?

Hugh: Who knows, but it seems that Jose Mourinho may have sent his twin brother in to look after things this season…

Matt: It’s been pretty bad. No one really knows what’s going on and of course everyone has their own opinions and conspiracy theories.

Mourinho looking dejected

None of the clubs Jose has managed in his career have been through a patch like this so it’s obviously strange to see a Mourinho team looking so off the pace compared to other teams in the league.

Personally, I point the finger at a short pre-season and the dreaded world tour that comes with being a club that has global sponsorship obligations (during the close season we travelled to Thailand, Australia and the USA).

There are also rumours that the number of pre-season training sessions completed by the squad was way below the normal amount for Premier League clubs.

Is now the ideal time for West Ham to be facing Chelsea – or was last week’s win over Villa the start of a Blues’ revival?

Hugh: It’s the perfect time. It’s also a season-defining time. This match should tell Irons fans just how far this team has come.

Matt: We’re certainly all hoping that the win over Villa was a turning point.

It’s always hard to gauge when is the best time to play another team but it’s worth remembering that West Ham have only won 1 of 4 games at home this season.

The damage they’ve done has predominantly been away from home (unbeaten in 5) so there’s a feeling that they are struggling to play in front of their own fans, which can obviously play into Chelsea’s hands.

We’re almost at the end of October now. Would a win over the champions this weekend mark the point where we start talking about West Ham as genuine top 6, even top 4 contenders this season?

Hugh: Yes. I think we are top six contenders anyway though.

West Ham celebrate

Matt: I wouldn’t be rushing to claim something like that just yet. The Premier League season is a deceptively long one and consistency is naturally the key to a strong final league position.

There are 29 games still to play and for me, West Ham’s squad looks a little thin to be able to sustain the required form needed to finish so high in the table.

And if they do harbour ambitions of a top 6 finish, that home form has to improve – 1 win in 4 isn’t a great home record so far but they’ve certainly made an impressive start on the whole.

And likewise, would a Chelsea defeat signal the point where Champions League football is no longer a guarantee for the Blues next season?

Hugh: The Chelsea situation is incredibly confusing. Mourinho’s body language and general attitude is all wrong. Never wrie them off but it looks pretty grim for them.

Matt: Again, it’s too early to say. I’m confident Chelsea will find some consistent form sooner rather than later and I do think they’ll be there or thereabouts when 38 games have been played.

Whether we’ve left ourselves too much to do to win the league is another matter entirely. We may be relying on favours from other teams to be able to claw it back.

Taking into account the season so far – What would you consider a successful season come May?

Hugh: Given the start, we’d look only to improve and a top six or seven finish wouild be a marvelous achievement.

Matt: At this stage of the season, it’s always hard to give up on the idea of winning the league. So a successful season would be John Terry lifting the trophy in May, whether that’s too optimistic is a matter for debate.

Looking at the opposition ahead of this Saturday’s clash – who worries you most?

Hugh: Diego Costa. Histrionics and, on occasion, downright cheating. That could lead our defenders into difficult decision making. Must hold our discipline.

4/1 – Diego Costa to score first

Matt: Definitely Dimitri Payet. He’s really made a difference to West Ham’s play in the final third, he causes defences to panic with his movement and he provides the team with goals on a regular basis – a priceless commodity in the Premier League.

Given that Matic has been out of sorts so far this year, Payet certainly gives me reason to worry.

3/1 – Dmitri Payer to score at anytime

What do your teams need to do to come away with the three points?

Hugh: What we’ve been doing. Attack them, be fearless, get onto the front foot, press and squeeze the ball and not be over reliant on the counter attacking game, which at times sees us surrender possession too much for my liking.

Matt: Conceding goals has been our biggest problem so far this season, we look unorganised and lack discipline at the back – which is a strange thing to say about a Mourinho team.

So a win for Chelsea will start at the back and our creative players will do the rest going forward.

It’s the final year at Upton Park – and the first big London derby of the season. With a long list of encounters between the two clubs at the Boleyn over the years, can you pick out any particular favourite memories?

Hugh: The Valentines Day Massacre of 1981 when we won brilliantly – 4-0 with two from Trevor Brooking, one from David Cross and another from Alan Devonshire.

Alan Devonshire v Chelsea 1981

Matt: Upton Park has always been a tough place to go and we had our backs to the wall when we went there in March 2008 under Avram Grant.

Chelsea produced as clinical performance as I’ve seen in East London to win 4-0 with goals from Lampard, Joe Cole, Ballack and Ashley Cole.

Three of the goals came within a 5 minute spell early in the game and just blew West Ham away, it was great to watch.

Lampard was sent off only ten minutes later which soured the victory a little but the performance as a whole was one of character and efficiency.

Any not so fond memories?

Hugh: Destroyed by Drogba. Beaten 4-0 via a Joe Cole goal, a Frank Lampard penalty, Michael Ballack and Ashley Cole strikes. Drogba was outstanding. Despite Lampard being sent off in the 35th minute, horrible memory.

Lampard v West Ham

Matt: An absolute classic Premier League game this one (even if it did end badly for Chelsea fans), when West Ham beat Chelsea 3-2 in March 1997.

Vialli gave us the lead but West Ham turned it round with two goals just after half time. Mark Hughes grabbed an equaliser in the 87th minute and we thought we’d snatched a point but Dave Kitson went up the other end and won it for West Ham in injury time.

Frank Lampard also came off the bench for West Ham in that game.

West Ham v Chelsea 1997

And finally – back to the present day – what’s your prediction for this Saturday’s encounter?

Hugh: 2-0. Sakho and Lanzini the goalscorers.

16/1 – West Ham to win 2-0

Matt: I’ll go with Chelsea to win 3-1. Scoring the goals: Costa, Willian and Hazard with Payet scoring for the Hammers.

12/1 – Chelsea to win 3-1

Read @ Claret & Hugh: Irons v Chelsea ’86 – a repeat would be perfect!

Read @ Chelsea FC Blog: 3 reasons why West Ham are the ideal next opponent

West Ham v Chelsea betting

READ: Defeat to improving Chelsea will not halt West Ham’s progress

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