Pards Knows It Will Be Tough Against The Champions

FOLLOWING back-to-back defeats, it looks like Monday's game against Chelsea is one with Everest-like proportions.

But Alan Pardew will send his injury-hit side into battle with table-topping Chelsea urging them to rekindle their pre-Christmas form and spirit.

"Our first match of 2006 represents a mountain to climb and it certainly isn't the best time to play the best team of 2005," admitted the Hammers' boss following the New Year's Eve defeat at Charlton Athletic. "But hopefully it will give us a chance to get back to showing a bit more of what we're about.

"Perhaps we can be a bit more exuberant and get back to playing with a bit more ambition, too.

"With five defeats in our last seven matches this has to be our trickiest patch of the season and we can't hide from that.

"It's been a difficult run due to injuries and they've cost us dearly. We haven't been able to field our strongest team by any means and at this level that can make such a difference.

"Bobby Zamora and Teddy Sheringham have left a big hole up front and we've also been without Yossi Benayoun, Danny Gabbidon and Tomas Repka.

"We're not just missing good players but we're missing good characters, too."

At least there appears to be some hope on the horizon on the injury front, with both Gabbidon and Repka in with a chance of facing Jose Mourinho's Blues.

"Yes, we have got a couple who are hopeful to make a return against Chelsea and if we all come through the that game okay, then by the time we get to Norwich City we should have a clean bill of health," 

Strikes by Shaun Bartlett and Darren Bent made it an unhappy return to The Valley for the Hammers' boss and fellow Charlton old boys, Paul Konchesky and Shaun Newton.

"You could sense that the first goal of the game was going to be important, especially after our defeat against Wigan Athletic. We started terrifically and forced all of the early play but then Charlton took the lead with their first real attack.

"After that, they showed their maturity from playing in the Premier League. They didn't play too much football, they filled in the holes and didn't come out at us too much.

"And once we conceded a second, it was always going to be a long haul against a side with so much experience. The match just petered out on us after that.

"We were disappointing against Wigan but we played reasonably well today. We were much better and if we'd have got that first goal we would have been having a very different discussion now.

 "In the end, the game was decided in the two penalty boxes where we could have done better in both and that is what I will be focusing on improving on against Chelsea."