West Bromwich Albion v Chelsea

The sudden and unexpected death this week of Chelsea legend Peter Osgood has cast a shadow over this match. The minute’s silence prior to kick-off will be deeply poignant for many Blues, particularly Chelsea Blog’s GJ who wrote such a touching tribute to the great man on Wednesday, a short extract of which was printed in yesterday’s Guardian newspaper.

The news that Frank Lampard hasn’t recovered from a minor hamstring injury picked up whilst training with the England squad earlier in the week is a worry given the proximity of our Champions League encounter with Barcelona. William Gallas is also expected to be missing today but is reported to be on track for Tuesday’s showdown at Camp Nou.

With Gallas being saved for Europe, Asier Del Horno could be reinstated at left back after the briefest of appearances against Portsmouth last weekend. Post-match it was said that Jose Mourinho substituted the Spaniard early for tactical reasons, but many believe Del Horno’s work ethic isn’t up to Mourinho’s high standards and his time at the Bridge could be coming to an end. His controversial red card in the Champions League match against Barcelona means he’s suspended on Tuesday so Mourinho may choose to play him today.

The ever-improving Joe Cole put in a virtuoso Man of the Match performance for England against Uruguay, and dedicated his winning goal to Peter Osgood. With Lampard out he will no doubt play an important part today and may well be switched to a more central role, although we’re not short of cover in that area. His assurance that he’ll sign a new contract this coming summer is welcome news.

Prediction: When considering the current gulf in class and Premiership table positions, and the fact that it’s 27 years since the Baggies last beat us, it’s difficult to envisage anything other than a win. There’s no doubt the players will want to honour Peter Osgood with a win — which incidently would be our 100th away win in Premier League history in Mourinho’s 100th match in charge.

The humiliating loss to fellow strugglers Middlesbrough demonstrates that these matches against bottom-of-the-table teams cannot be taken for granted. However, it’s very unlikely Mourinho will allow that to happen again any time soon so expect another relatively comfortable victory. 0-2.

Related links:

West Bromwich Albion 1 – 2 Chelsea · Update

Read Jonathan‘s match report here.

See Drogba and Joe Cole’s goals here (downloadable zip files).

Match reports: BBC Sport; Sky Sports; ESPNSoccernet; Official Chelsea FC Website; The Observer; Independent on Sunday; Sunday Times; Sunday Telegraph; The Guardian; Daily Telegraph; The Times; The Independent.

Related links:

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