Chelsea v West Ham United

Jose Mourinho’s proclamation back in February that eight more wins were needed to claim back-to-back Premiership titles had the press declaring April 9 as the day; West Ham fans would have to suffer the ignominy of watching us seal successive titles at their expense.

Of course it was no surprise to learn that Mourinho didn’t actually say what was reported: the press took his words (“When we get eight wins, we will be champions”), the fixture list, put two and two together and arrived at nine, or more precisely April 9. If only it were that easy.

Seven games later and we’ve won half of the eight, lost two and drawn one; and the title race is far from over. Manchester United have taken advantage of our prolonged dip in form by winning eight games in a row, and cut our lead to 7 points. But with only six games of the season remaining, three of which are at the Bridge, we’re still in the proverbial driving seat.

Mourinho has a full contingent of players from which to choose the match squad. Former Hammer Glen Johnson returned to training this week after undergoing a hernia operation eight days ago, while William Gallas is in contention after serving a three-match ban for his sending-off down the road at Fulham.

Frank Lampard, another of our former West Ham players, has laboured in recent games but is almost certain to keep his place. A few have blamed Lampard for the team’s slump in form, but Mourinho refused to single him out when questioned during Friday’s pre-match press conference.

“It’s not fair to look to a player who was so responsible for our very good moments. I don’t think that because he had a bad game against Birmingham and has not scored for three or four matches that we blame him. I like to be the man of the bad moment,” he said.

The third ex-Hammer in our squad, Joe Cole, missed the reverse fixture at Upton Park because of suspension but will be hoping to play against his old club for the first time since leaving in 2003 in a Premiership game*.

Prediction: 3-1. Arsenal will do United. I’ll drink too much lager.

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Chelsea 4 – 1 West Ham United · Update

Wow. That was something else. Play like that in the remaining five games and the title is most definitely ours. Didier Drogba’s man of the match award was more than deserved: amazing performance.

I’m off to recover from an afternoon celebrating in the pub. A couple of ibuprofen and an evening in front of the TV watching the final round of the Masters.

See Drogba, Crespo, Terry and Gallas’s goals here (downloadable zip files).

Read Jonathan‘s match report here.

Match reports: BBC Sport; Sky Sports; ESPNSoccernet; Official Chelsea FC Website; Daily Telegraph; The Times; The Guardian; The Independent.

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