Chelsea-West Ham United Preview
LONDON (SE) - Rafael Benitez isn't just looking for his first win as Chelsea manager, he's still seeking his first goal.
West Ham United are looking to only add to those frustrations, and the growing indignation of Chelsea supporters.
Benitez gets a third chance to begin quelling concerns about his surprising appointment, as the Blues try to continue their dominance of the Hammers during the lunchtime kickoff Saturday.
Benitez's tenure as Chelsea boss has started in unspectacular fashion, following last weekend's scoreless draw with Manchester City with another against Fulham on Wednesday. Both matches came at home, where Benitez was booed by fans unhappy about his hiring last week, following the controversial sacking of Roberto Di Matteo.
The Spaniard may find some relief at going on the road, but he's not happy with his new team's performance which includes totalling four shots on target through two matches.
"I am a little frustrated," Benitez said. "Overall I think we are watching things that are positive (but) we have to play with a higher tempo for the players that we have up front."
Perhaps including Juan Mata in the lineup would help. The midfielder's seven goals tie him with Fernando Torres for the team lead in all competitions, but he was used off the bench for the final 27 minutes against Fulham.
"We have too many games now so the idea is to manage the squad and use the players we have," Benitez said. "You can't play the same team every time because if you do we have West Ham in two days, and then Japan. We have to try and manage the squad."
Benitez's most important managing job may be getting Torres back to resembling one of the most feared forwards in the world, something he's credited with doing at Liverpool.
Torres has been largely seen as a flop since being acquired by Chelsea (7-5-2) for a reported transfer fee of 50 million pounds in January 2011.
The forward has six goals in six games against West Ham (5-4-5), getting one in a 3-0 home victory on April 23.
Chelsea, third in the table, routinely have little trouble with the Hammers, going 10-2-0 in the last 12 meetings with a 5-1-0 record at Upton Park.
West Ham, 10th in the Premier League following their promotion, play their next two matches at home, where they're 3-3-1 in league play while holding an 11-6 scoring advantage. After facing visiting Chelsea, the Hammers will welcome Liverpool to Upton Park next weekend.
They're trying to avoid losing a third consecutive Premier League match, but manager Sam Allardyce was encouraged with Wednesday's 1-0 loss to leaders Manchester United, despite conceding in the opening minute.
"It was obviously a problem to concede a goal inside the first minute but after that our response was really very good," Allardyce told the team's official website. "I know that we didn't create very much - you never do here at Old Trafford - but we continued to try and grow into the game and we went looking for the equaliser towards the finish, too.
"Building on the base of a solid defensive unit is how we've got to pick up points because we haven't got the strikeforce that Manchester United have."
Andy Carroll isn't helping, either. The forward, who is on loan from Liverpool, has one goal in 12 matches and failed to get any of his three shots against United on target. In fact, only five of his 23 shots on the season have been on frame.
In two starts against Chelsea, Carroll has one goal while assisting on another.