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Chelsea V West Brom at Stamford Bridge : Match Preview

Updated 02 Mar 2013 08:24:16

Chelsea V West Brom at Stamford Bridge : Match Preview

Chelsea V West Brom - view commentary, squad, and statistics of the game live.


Benayoun out with ankle injury

Midfielder Yossi Benayoun, a key ally of under-pressure interim manager Rafael Benitez, is out of the Barclays Premier League clash with West Brom with an ankle injury.

Gary Cahill (virus) and Cesar Azpilicueta (leg) are available again after missing the midweek FA Cup win at Middlesbrough.

Oriol Romeu (knee) remains a long-term absentee.

It is possible Benitez's temporary tenure could soon come to a premature end.

There is recent precedent for a change of Blues manager following losses to West Brom.

The final Premier League matches for Andre Villas-Boas and Roberto Di Matteo, Benitez's immediate predecessors, were defeats at The Hawthorns.

After 11 points out of a possible 24, Benitez's Chelsea must improve their form after slipping to fourth in recent weeks.

He would not consider the prospect of tomorrow's match being his last as Blues boss, with the FA Cup and Europa League still targets too.

"`If' is not a point for me now," he said.

"I'm quite positive we can get a result, finish in the top three, top two. We will see. That is my feeling.

"Realistically, it won't be easy. Manchester City are a good team and they have good players. They can keep winning games and it will be difficult.

"But you never know in football. Top three, top four. That is a target.

"It's very clear still we have a lot of good chances. We will try to do our best in every competition.

"West Brom will be the first one. After that we'll try to progress in the Europa League and FA Cup. Every game is important. We want to win every game."

West Brom could be without their two frontline strikers.

On-loan Romelu Lukaku is ineligible to face his parent club but forward partner Shane Long is a doubt with the ankle injury suffered against Sunderland and has been unable to train so far this week.

Left-back Goran Popov will complete a three game ban for his red card against Tottenham. Head coach Steve Clarke has included 16-year-old midfielder Isaiah Brown, who is still at school, in his squad.

Head coach Steve Clarke insists it is too early to start touting him as a possible successor to Benitez this summer.

But Clarke, who spent nearly 20 years at Stamford Bridge as player and coach, concedes it is his ambition to manage "a big club" at some stage of his career.

Clarke is in his first senior managerial role at the Hawthorns and has steered Albion into seventh spot in the Barclays Premier League.

But any ambitions about eventually being in charge of one of the Premier League's leading sides are for the future.

Clarke said: "I think it's too early to start connecting me with Chelsea. There are a lot of managers that are out there who have a better case than me.

"Wherever I am on the bookmakers list is a good indication and I'm sure I'm not in the list at 50-1 even!

"Listen, you've hit me with a question that has come out of left field because I haven't even thought about it.

"I'm not even a year into the job here. Up to now it has been a great season and I haven't looked anywhere beyond that."



PA

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