The Chelsea defender John Terry has called on his team-mates to produce a repeat of what he rated as their best display of the season in Sunday's 0-0 draw with Premiership leaders Leeds when they visit West Ham tonight.
The Stamford Bridge side are unbeaten in the Premiership this season, but Terry, the only player who has not missed a match, said: "Without a shadow of a doubt that was our best performance.
"We were really up for it and need to be like that before every game. They set the tempo, and we matched it."
Chelsea's eight-match unbeaten run in the league – Leeds are the only other undefeated team – will be tested by a West Ham side who have not conceded a goal in three matches at Upton Park, despite their woeful form away from home.
Terry is not under-estimating West Ham. Glenn Roeder's team bounced back from successive defeats at Everton and Blackburn, in which they shipped a dozen goals, with a 2-0 home victory over Southampton, who promptly fired manager Stuart Gray.
"We need to take our consistency into the West Ham game," said the 20-year-old. "The Leeds match should give us confidence."
Chelsea's league form has been achieved against a backdrop of unwanted headlines during the last week. It all started when Graeme Le Saux, Emmanuel Petit, Marcel Desailly, Eidur Gudjohnsen, William Gallas and Albert Ferrer, with the consent of the club, elected not to fly to Tel Aviv for their 2-0 Uefa Cup defeat.
Then there were allegations that midfielder Jody Morris had been involved in another incident in a nightclub. Morris was already in trouble having been fined two weeks' wages for inappropriate behaviour, along with several other Chelsea players, in a Heathrow hotel bar following the terrorist attacks of 11 September.
The club's embarrassment was compounded by Le Saux's reckless, two-footed tackle on the Leeds full-back Danny Mills at Elland Road on Sunday.
However, manager Claudio Ranieri has implanted resolve in a previously unpredictable side and it is having results. Chelsea had the unwanted reputation last season of being capable of beating the best teams, but they were equally likely to succumb to less talented, if often more spirited, opposition.
Away from Stamford Bridge Chelsea have won two and drawn two of their four matches so far, scoring six goals and conceding three.
As ever, their biggest threat will come from striker Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink, scorer of eight Premiership goals already. He comes up against West Ham's Czech Republic defender Tomas Repka, who will be making his last appearance before starting a two-match suspension – his second ban of the season following his arrival from Fiorentina.Reuse content