Zola Returns To The Bridge

Chelsea host local rivals West Ham United in the third of four consecutive home games, looking to re-establish themselves at the top of the English Premier League.

Always a highlight of the season, this fixture has taken on an added romanticism in recent times with the mercurial Gianfranco Zola taking over the reigns at Upton Park with Steve Clarke as his assistant.

Chelsea have injury problems that will affect not only this league match, but the second leg match against Internazionale on Tuesday.

Petr Cech is already out injured, but his deputy Hilario picked up a groin injury against Stoke City and will also be missing and is doubtful for Tuesday. Ross Turnbull will make his league debut. Yuri Zhirkov is fit again at left back, however Ricardo Carvalho will not play.

West Ham’s attack is almost certain to feature former Chelsea protégé Carlton Cole. The forward has been in great form this season and could well be on the plane to South Africa come season’s end.

Guillermo Franco is likely to partner him in attack, should Zola opt for two strikers. Scott Parker, another former Blue, will play in midfield.

Both the corresponding fixture last season and the reverse fixture this season ended in 1-1 draws. Last season, under Luiz Felipe Scolari, Nicolas Anelka scored the equaliser after Craig Bellamy scored for West Ham.

This season, Frank Lampard equalised from the penalty spot after Alessandro Diamanti opened the scoring, also from the spot.

Ladbrokes has installed Chelsea as incredibly short priced favourites at 1/5. The draw is paying 5/1 and a West Ham upset a massive 14/1.