West Ham vs Chelsea labelled Hammers’ BIGGEST game in recent history by ex-striker Dean Ashton as Champions League football could help land Jesse Lingard

West Ham face their biggest match in recent history when they host Chelsea.

That is according to former Hammers star Dean Ashton, who is desperate to see David Moyes’ side play Champions League football next season.

West Ham are making a surprise push for a Champions League spot
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West Ham will leapfrog Chelsea into fourth place if they beat their rivals on Saturday, a game which is LIVE on talkSPORT from 5.30pm.

West Ham have thrived on big occasions in the past.

They stayed up on he final day of the 2006/07 season with a 1-0 win at then Premier League champions Manchester United and won promotion back to the top-flight with an 87th-minute goal in the 2012 Championship play-off final.

And Ashton, who scored for the Hammers in their dramatic FA Cup final defeat to Liverpool in 2006, is not downplaying the magnitude of the Chelsea match.

Ashton played in some big West Ham games himself

When asked if this represents West Ham’s biggest match in recent times, he told talkSPORT.com: “Absolutely.

“It’s been a long time since there’s been a game of this magnitude in terms of what could lie ahead of it if they’re able to get through this with three points and the rest of the games of the season.

“What lies ahead would just be incredible for West Ham and David Moyes. It’s a massive game, they’ll all know that.

“I’m sure they’ll have prepared as best they can this week. The fact they were beaten [by Newcastle] last time out would have given them a whole week to spew over that.

Ashton says Moyes should be a contender for Manager of the Year if West Ham finish in the top four
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“Hopefully they’ve got a real fire in their belly for this weekend.

“It’ll be a tense, tight game. I would expect Chelsea to make it incredibly difficult.

“They’ve been fantastic in terms of organisation, the way they keep the ball and they’ve not given many teams opportunities to break them down. So it’s not going to be easy for West Ham.

“West Ham have been able to raise themselves for these big games. It’s such a difficult one to call in terms of which way the result will go.”

Ashton insists Moyes would have to be in the running for the Manager of the Season award if West Ham secure a top-four finish.

He added: “David Moyes would have to be considered for Manager of the Season.

“Everyone would have had them down [for relegation]. When they played Newcastle last weekend, that would have been in a relegation battle.

“So for West Ham to be in the position they’re in, the manager has got to take huge credit. They’ve taken a huge leap in terms of consistent performances this season.

“To be able to top it off with something as good as what would be a Champions League spot, it would be quite unbelievable for the club, the supporters would then have that to look forward to next season.

Jesse Lingard has been pivotal in West Ham’s top four push
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“It would just be a totally different outlook and vibe at the stadium if they were able to pull it off.”

Champions League football would also aid West Ham in their pursuit of landing Jesse Lingard on a permanent transfer.

The Manchester United midfielder has scored nine goals and registered three assists in 10 games since joining the Hammers on loan in January.

Ashton said: “Of course, Champions League football would help. Depending on how [the season] finishes, it might dictate what happens [with Lingard].

“West Ham will be trying to do everything they can to get him because of the impact he’s had, the way he’s settled in and fitted in to what is expected of a West Ham player under David Moyes.

“That’s full commitment, but also with that flair that the supporters want to see. If he was to come to West Ham, the fans would love him.

“He’d feel incredible in front of those supporters because they’d love everything about him in terms of his work-rate and flair he brings.

“It’s a big decision for him as well. We don’t know what he’s thinking and whether he thinks this is just a stepping stone to get him back in the Manchester United side.”