West Bromwich Albion v Chelsea – Match Preview

Following our gratifying victory over Newcastle on Saturday, we are once again in action just three days later as we travel to Birmingham to face a struggling West Brom side at the Hawthorns. This match presents us with an opportunity to extend our lead at the Premier League summit to four points for a minimum of twenty-four hours before Arsenal and Manchester City feature on Wednesday.

Form between the teams could hardly be more diverging as we look to build the momentum required for a potential title win. Unbeaten in 10 league encounters, with the defeat at Stoke in early December the last, the Blues certainly have the look of champions.

Meanwhile, Pepe Mel’s team lie in the relegation zone, one point off safety, and are yet to register a victory under the Spaniard’s stewardship.

After the brilliant victory away to title rivals Manchester City last week, Chelsea will hope to take their impressive form into tonight in what promises to be another challenging away game. The Baggies were unfortunate not to have broken Mourinho’s commendable unbeaten record at Stamford Bridge in November courtesy of a controversial penalty, made by Ramires and converted by Eden Hazard.

Hazard, who is currently on an incredible streak of form, will look to wreak havoc in the Baggies’ back-line as he did against City and Newcastle, with the Belgian stating his delight at his recent success.

“I’m going through a good period at the moment,” Hazard said. “I try to enjoy myself every match with my team-mates. It’s all going well.

“I’ve played a lot of very good games in my Chelsea career. The last against Man City was very good as well and it was a good performance on my part against Newcastle, but the whole team did well from the first to the last minute.

“I’m happy in life, I’m happy with my football and I’m happy at this club. I am in good form now, lots of nice things are happening and I hope to continue like this.”

With our clean-sheet problem resolved before the new year following an inquiry in which we reverted to counter-attacking football, another league triumph is on the cards.

Team news

Pepe Mel will again be without the services of Nicolas Anelka, Jonas Olsson and Stephane Sessegnon through injury.

Defender Billy Jones is a doubt, but forward Thievy Bifouma could start after he made a goalscoring debut off the bench against Crystal Palace.

Jose Mourinho has confirmed captain John Terry will again be absent with the minor niggle that saw him miss the win over Newcastle.

However, striker Fernando Torres returns after three weeks out.

Expected starting XI

Cech, Ivanovic, Cahill, David Luiz, Azpilicueta, Matic, Ramires, Oscar, Willian, Hazard, Eto’o.

I fully anticipate Jose fielding a similar starting eleven to the one he did on Saturday with Samuel Eto’o starting ahead of the fit-again Torres due to his recent good form and impressive showing against Newcastle. Nemanja Matic and Hazard are certain selections – who can drop them on current form?

There are 10 comments

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  1. WorkingClassPost

    Whoa, Ahmed. That preview is way too optimistic.

    We may be clear favorites, but a midweek match in wet and windy West Brum is not to be taken lightly, at least, not if/until we’re a couple of goals up on the night!

    Didn’t they recently restrict Poo to a point – the same poo who put 5 past Arse (which admitedly might tell us more about Arse’s weaknesses than Brum’s strengths).

    Anyway, I’m no more than cautiously optimistic at this time, greatly looking forward to it though, just the same.

  2. Fat Nakago

    I’m confident enough in today’s match that I dropped James Morrison completely from my fantasy football team and replaced him with Steve Sidwell. Now THAT’S confidence!!!

  3. Cunningplan

    Too many performances around the 6 and 7 mark last night as opposed to the 8’s and 9’s the week before at City.
    And the team that might just sneak the title is currently sitting in fourth, I have a slightly uneasy feeling about it.

  4. Der_Kaiser

    One of those games. Just dipped a little from our recent good form and paid the price – despite their league position, West Brom has been a tricky trip for the top sides this season so a point is perhaps a good return, albeit that it feels more like two dropped in the circumstances. We’ve shipped a few late goals this term, which needs to be addressed.

    All that said, there is a long way to go yet – some tricky away trips coming for us so we’ll need to be more consistent.

  5. limetreebower

    Easy to be wise after the event of course but I’m not too surprised or disappointed. We weren’t likely champions just because of one terrific performance, and we’re not out of it just because of one bad one. I’ve always thought that we’re going to lack the stamina and consistency to win the title this season. The last couple of months have shown how quickly José’s managed to get the team playing his way, and he’s settled on a clear first XI (or XI of XII) impressively quickly too, but it’s still a young team with a new manager and some newish players.

    No one believes José when he says that the top four is the only aim this season, but I think he means it, and I think he’s right. Second would be terrific, and the title would be a really remarkable achievement (and would owe a lot to Citeh underperforming, frankly).

    Annoying to concede so late, but a decent enough point, on reflection.

  6. musumba

    In comes Torres and Mikel, we get pushed back and lose 2 points. Jose should learn to make clever substitutions and Ramires should be constantly benched, his dip in form is shocking,the Luiz Cahill partnership is error prone and a recipe for disaster ,Instead of going and
    getting a second goal and putting the game away we drop back and eat a
    point. whats this obsession Jose has with inviting undue pressure.

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