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.
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?