WEST BROMWICH ALBION
Stamford Bridge, London
November 9, 2013; 15:00 GMT
Jose Mourinho will welcome his former assistant, Steve Clark, to Stamford Bridge, as Chelsea take on West Bromwich Albion this weekend. Clark has served for close to two decades at Chelsea, first as a player and then as a coach, was was a massive part of the first Mourinho era.
Chelsea’s surge towards the top of the table was unexpectedly halted last weekend. After a fine run of form, the West London side failed to turn up at Tyneside, losing 2-0 to Newcastle last weekend. Five points from the top, with first placed Arsenal traveling to Old Trafford, Mourinho will be eager to close that gap and wouldn’t accept anything but total dominance from his team.
On the other hand, history isn’t in West Brom’s corner. Although the Baggies registered a win in their last game, won at Old Trafford and held Arsenal to a draw this season, they have failed to win at Chelsea in the last 30 years, drawing once and losing the remaining 11 games at Stamford Bridge.
Team News and Tactical Brief
Fernando Torres, Ryan Bertrand and Marko van Ginkel remain unavailable for selection for the upcoming clash, but other than them Jose Mourinho has the whole roster to chose from. It will, however, be interesting to see who amongst those that played against Newcastle will be restored to the line-up.
Chelsea will line-up in their usual 4-2-3-1 shape with Petr Cech between the posts. Ahead of him, Ivanovic is expected to continue at the right back position, while Mourinho may opt to continue with Azpilicueta, who has been impressive whenever he has got an opportunity irrespective of whether he has played at his usual position or on the left, in place of the lackluster Ashley Cole. Terry has re-established himself as the first choice centre back under Mourinho, and he might be paired with Cahill, who had a solid game against Schalke in midweek.
Ahead of them, Lampard is expected to regain his place alongside Ramires in central midfield, while Oscar, Schurrle are expected to retain their places in the attacking band. Eden Hazard will repace Willian in the starting line-up and in the continued absence of Torres, Eto’o will be chosen ahead of Demba Ba upfront.
Probable Starting Line-up (4-2-3-1): Cech; Ivanovic; Terry, Cahill, Azpilicueta; Ramires, Lampard, Oscar, Schurrle, Hazard; Eto’o
West Bromwich Albion
Former Chelsea players, Scot Sinclair and Nicolas Anelka, aren’t expected to be fit in time for this game, while Victor Anichebe has recovered from his hamstring injury. Steve Clark will be without the services of Foster, Gera, Thorne and Jones.
West Brom will deploy a similar formation to Chelsea’s, with Myhill in goal and a four man defence comprising of Reid (right-back), McAuley and Olsson (centre-backs), and Ridgewell (left-back). Mulumbu and Yacob will be entrusted with the duty of keeping the fluid movement of particularly Oscar and Hazard in check and also track the late runs of Lampard and Ramires, while Amalfitano on the right and Brunt on the left will look to support Sessegnon and Long, who will try their best to put the reputation of Terry, Lampard and Co. to the test.
West Brom will try to secure their right flank as much as possible in the face of the combined threat posed by Schurrle/Hazard and Azpilicueta/Cole, and let Chelsea route their attacks from the right. In the last few games, Ivanovic has seen a lot of possession in the opposition’s half but hasn’t been able to do much with the ball, as his crosses and passes have been ineffective to say the least. Also, if they can keep nullify the influence of Oscar in the centre, Chelsea’s offensive game may be nipped in the bud.
Probable Starting Line-up (4-2-3-1): Myhill; Reid, McAuley, Olsson, Ridgewell; Mulumbu, Yacob; Amalfitano, Brunt, Sessegnon; Long
- Chelsea have won their last 7 home matches against West Brom in all competitions.
- Chelsea have won their last 6 home matches in the Premier League.
- Chelsea have scored at least 2 goals in their last 10 home matches in the Premier League.
- Chelsea have kept a clean sheet in 6 of their last 7 home matches against West Brom in all competitions.
Player To Watch Out For
Eden Hazard (Chelsea)
Leading up to the Newcastle game, Eden had gradually picked up his game and was looking closer to his threatening best but his progress was halted cause of his own misdemeanors. Hazard was granted leave to watch his former club Lille play and was expected to return in the morning for the session. He, however, arrived only in the afternoon; he not only missed the session but also infuriated Mourinho. The manager dropped him from the matchday squad against Schalke as a punishment. Since then, the player has appologized and is yearning to play and Mourinho has admitted that he would consider Hazard for the West Brom game. With Schurrle and Willian settling well and with competition for attacking midfield positions being intense in the squad, the Belgian will have a point to prove this weekend and reclaim his starting position in the Chelsea starting eleven.
Chelsea 3-1 West Bromwich Albion
After a disastrous showing against Newcastle, Jose Mourinho has been extremely critical of his team and even dropped half the side for the clash against Schalke. A strong Chelsea performance against West Brom is on the cards, as the players who were dropped have a point to prove before the international break.
Blast From The Past