Sam Allardyce’s high flying West Ham side take on fierce London rivals Chelsea in the early kick off on Boxing Day, with the Hammers eager to keep their terrific form going, and put pressure on Manchester United in third place.
Those of you who are partial to a spot of MondoGoal, the online fantasy football game where players win cash and prizes every gameweek, may be tempted to plump for a few West Ham players for the festive fixture, considering their fine form.
And, if there wasn’t incentive enough to sign up, the Hammers are giving away an official shirt and ball to the winner of their exclusive Boxing Day MondoGoal league!
Sitting pretty on 31 points, two clear of fifth placed Southampton (and four ahead of Arsenal), West Ham have been quite the surprise package this term, quietly going about their business with real efficiency, with just one loss in their last ten Premier League matches.
“It’s not often a team is breaking the barriers everybody else doesn’t expect them to break,” said Allardyce after beating Leicester City 2-0 in their last fixture. “Being fourth is a great Christmas present for everybody at West Ham and having 31 points already is a pretty major achievement for us.”
Those of you who are writing off the Hammers even before their trip across the capital to Stamford Bridge should note that Allardyce’s men have already beaten both Liverpool and Manchester City this season, and have won just one less game than Chelsea since October.
They have secured two wins and two draws from the five away matches played in that period; and with a number of influential players currently firing on all cylinders, you can be sure it’ll be no walk in the park for Jose Mourinho’s men.
Last year’s fixture between the two sides ended in a 0-0 draw, with the Blues registering a record 39 shots on goal without scoring. West Ham managed just one. But things have certainly changed since then, with the Hammers playing far from what Mourinho described as ’19th century football’ this season; something that may intrigue a number of fantasy managers ahead of the clash.
Check out our list of the top five West Ham players likely to earn MondoGoal points at Stamford Bridge on Boxing Day:
1. Stewart Downing, Midfielder, Price: £11.4m
The England man has been nothing short of superb for his side in 2014, becoming a regular in many fantasy managers’ MondoGoal squads.
Downing has managed a goal or an assist in his last four outings for the Hammers, and if he continues his great run of form against Chelsea, West Ham could deliver their fans an unforgettable (late) Christmas present!
2. Andy Carroll, Striker, Price: £9.1m
The 25-year-old former Newcastle and Liverpool hitman returned to action at the end of November, having finally recovered from a spate of injuries that had kept him out of the squad for months.
The fit-again Carroll has four goals from his last four games, including one last week against Leicester, and will be a handful for the Chelsea defence, regardless of their impressive run of five clean sheets in six.
Remember the 2012 League Cup final? Carroll came on in the dying moments and gave the Blues such a fright, scoring one and forcing an astonishing save from Petr Cech. He will be well up for it on Friday, that’s for sure.
3. Diafra Sakho, Striker, Price: £10m
The Senegalese dynamo has been a revelation for the Hammers this season; so much so that the attacker has this week agreed a new £30,000-a-week deal at Upton Park, just five months after signing for the club from Metz.
With six Premier League goals already to his name, including five consecutive strikes (with Man Utd, Man City and Liverpool all failing to keep him out) earlier in the season, some MondoGoal managers will be tempted to throw him in against Chelsea, as he has shown already in the campaign that he is a man for the big occasion.
4. Aaron Cresswell, Defender, Price: £8.8m
The 25-year-old was a low key signing from Ipswich Town in the summer, but has gone on to cement his place in Sam Allardyce’s starting XI with consistently solid displays at left back.
Confident coming forward, and with two assists already this season; if he can plonk it on Andy Carroll’s head, anything could happen!
Oh, and lest we forget, the Hammers kept a clean sheet at Chelsea last time around…
5. Adrian, Goalkeeper, Price: £7.4m
The Spanish stopper was one of the heroes last January at Stamford Bridge, with his side picking up a hard earned point (much to Jose Mourinho’s disgust).
There is a doubt over star Chelsea attacker Eden Hazard’s fitness ahead of the game, which will only be welcome news for Adrian and his backline; and if they can evoke the discipline shown last year (as well as a bit of that luck), Adrian could manage quite a few points between the sticks.
What do you think? Can the Hammers cause an upset? Will the fantasy week belong to Big Sam’s boys? Be sure to sign up to MondoGoal here and submit your team for a chance at winning a signed official West Ham shirt & ball!