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Will Torres start or will Ancelotti go with the generally more effective Didier Drogba? That’s the question we’re just about maintaining a passing interest in ahead of this London derby. Which, as far as London derbies go, isn’t the most interesting to start with. The Torres question is one which should have a very simple answer: No. There are some who would suggest that the Spaniard’s best days are behind him as the physicality of the Premier League has taken its toll and his body starts to fail on him. Then there are others who would say that he’s something of a jinx at club level. A World Cup and a European Cup with Spain but not a sausage on the domestic scene? Make of that what you will.
With this in mind, the 7/2 on Torres to score first looks a poor bet, even if he does start. Which he won’t. Clearly the 4-5-1 formation with Didier Droga as the lone front-man is the more effective approach, given Chelsea’s current options, and though shorter in price at 3/1, the Ivorian is far better value to open the scoring. After his midweek brace, Kalou should start against the Hammers and at 5/1 to score first he offers a decent price in a game Chelsea are heavily favoured to win.
After a mini-revival in February, the Hammers have lost their last three to slip back in to the relegation zone, conceding nine goals in those three defeats. Whether Avram Grant has the motivational skills or the playing staff to get to the 41 point mark he sees as ensuring survival, is under serious doubt. The most impressive thing we’ve seen from a West Ham player this season has been Carlton Cole referencing George Orwell’s 1984 on twitter. Scott Parker has been pretty decent too but the rumours are that Grant will be resting him against Chelsea and Man City so he’s fully fit to play in the more winnable games against Blackburn, Wigan and Sunderland. Which doesn’t say a whole lot about the manager’s expectations for this fixture. It seems a little cynical but is probably the right call.
Chelsea to win at 2/9 looks a certainty and it would be worth taking them on -1 goal at 8/13 and even -2 goals at 13/8. They’ve spanked four past the Hammers on a number of occasions over recent seasons and the current form of both sides indicates that they may be about to do so again. Chelsea 4-1 is 14/1. You heard it here first. Unless that turns out to be way off, in which case you heard it in the Sun.