Hammers V The Blues

HAMMERS will undoubtedly be the underdogs for their first match of 2006, the
visit of Chelsea.

However, it is the east Londoners who have had the better over time with 34
league wins to 25. The Blues have not won a league fixture at Upton Park
since 2001.

There has always been plenty of drama when the two sides have met at the
Boleyn, and none more so than the last encounter. Paolo Di Canio pounced
with 20 minutes remaining to give West Ham a vital victory in the bid for
survival in the final home game of the season.

The season before saw early strikes from Michael Carrick and Freddie Kanoute
enough to earn a 2-1 win, but later that year a Jermain Defoe double was not
enough to see the Hammers through to the FA Cup fifth round, as John Terry
stole a last minute winner.

The first Premiership meeting went the way of West Ham thanks to Trevor
Morley, and in 1998 Trevor Sinclair and David Unsworth both scored to pull
the Hammers back from a goal behind.

In March 1997 Hammers were still deep in relegation trouble despite a
thrilling 4-3 victory over Spurs, when another set of London rivals visited.
Harry Redknapp's side were behind at the break but Julian Dicks came up with
another penalty to level the scores.

Paul Kitson struck only his second Hammers goal, but the Blues equalised
with only a few minutes to go. The fighting spirit prevailed however, as
Kitson flicked on an Iain Dowie goal-bound header and earned a well-needed
three points.

Hammers victories over their west London rivals have not always been so
close, in fact in the 1980's things were far greener in the east.

Trevor Brooking struck twice, along with David Cross and Alan Devonshire, in
a 4-0 win that would help West Ham on their way to the 1981 Division 2
Championship and promotion. That year Chelsea finished 12th - in the Second

Tony Cottee and Ray Stewart both bagged a brace with Frank McAvennie during
a cracking 5-3 win 1986, and three years later Leroy Rosenior grabbed two
with Cottee again and Paul Hilton to earn a 4-1 victory.

Vic Watson also struck twice in a 1930 victory and Billy Bonds went one
better, scoring a hat-trick to give West Ham a 3-0 win in 1974.

The first fixture was played in 1923 and Hammers came out on top 2-0,
courtesy of George Kay and William Brown, and West Ham celebrated their
return to the top flight in September 1958 with a 4-2 Upton Park victory.

The prolific partnership of John Dick and Vic Keeble came up trumps again.
They both scored their 6th goals of the season, along with Mike Grice and
John Smith.