Solano points way to success

Nolberto Solano says full concentration will be required when West Ham United go to Chelsea looking to upset the odds and claim an away victory.

The west London club have not lost a home league fixture since 21 February 2004 and are bidding to make it 70 consecutive games unbeaten at Stamford Bridge this Saturday. Although Chelsea have come out on top in the last five home and away meetings between the teams, West Ham United fans will dream of a repeat of a 3-2 away success on 28 September 2002, a victory inspired by a memorable two goals from Paolo Di Canio.

Hoping to inspire the Hammers in similar fashion this weekend will be Solano, a gifted performer who has added welcome creativity and composure to Alan Curbishley's side in recent weeks. Proof of that was his match-turning debut appearance last month as a substitute in the 3-1 home win against Sunderland before scoring with a wonderful free-kick in the 5-0 success away to Derby County.

"I am looking forward to Chelsea," the former Newcastle United midfielder said. "It is always a big game. It is going to be tough because Chelsea are racing for the title. They don't want to drop points and always expect to take the three points. But if we concentrate, play to 100 per cent of our best and give everything then we have got a good chance of getting a result."

Solano is more renowned for his assist-making than his goalscoring and his thoughtful play was very much in evidence in the 1-1 draw against Tottenham Hotspur last Sunday. Played in by a clever reverse pass by Luis Boa Morte, Solano burst through on the right and bore down on Paul Robinson's goal. Just as most at the Boleyn Ground expected a shot from a tight angle, the Peruvian played a perfect pass across goal for the unmarked Carlton Cole to score.

Despite that superb team goal, Tottenham were able to battle back well for a point, leaving Solano frustrated. "In the first half, we did quite well," he said. "We created a few chances and we should probably have closed the game. We tried our best and we are a little bit disappointed at the end. Still, it is not easy to play against Spurs. They are a good side and have very high quality players. We tried to work hard and to win.

"We were in a great position but that's what happens. In a derby, it is always going to be difficult. They are a good side but I believe the team can still do much better." Chelsea will be another capital clash and Solano expects the travelling supporters to be in full voice again as they were at the weekend. "The fans were really behind us," he said. "I am used to playing derbies with Newcastle against Sunderland. I know how special it is for the fans and they do not want to lose these games."

Solano had 20 minutes on Sunday in midfield alongside former Newcastle colleague Scott Parker, who had come on as substitute, before making way himself in the closing stages. Along with another former team-mate Lee Bowyer, who is returning to fitness after a hernia operation, the trio have plenty of experience of each other's games. The 32-year-old believed having players like Parker and Bowyer back in contention could only be positive.

"It is nice to see Scott Parker back, it is nice to see everybody," he said. "It is better for the team. When you have a big squad it is difficult for the manager but it is better to have every player fit. That is the most important thing because we need to try and do well. We want to finish in the top eight if we can." Chelsea away will surely be a true test of those ambitions but Solano knows success comes by setting sights high.