Preview: WBA vs Chelsea
Joseph Chapman looks forward to tomorrow's game
It is a well known fact that West Brom's two most recent managers - ahem, head coaches - before current boss Steve Clarke went on to take charge of the national team and the champions of Europe. There lays the expectation weighing heavily on the inexperienced Scot's shoulders, although it must be pointed out he is dealing with it rather comfortably at the present time.
One of those previous heads, Roberto Di Matteo, returns to The Hawthorns this weekend after leading Chelsea to European glory at the end of last season - a feat which should be praised and something that Blues fans will undoubtedly disallow opposing fans to forget. The Italian in his playing days was a fans’ favourite at Stamford Bridge and was welcomed with open arms to the coaching staff assembled by Andre Villas-Boas at the beginning of last season, before going on to succeed the current Tottenham boss at the helm.
Of course Clarke himself is welcoming one of his former employers to his new home on Saturday. The 49-year-old worked in the capital under the notorious Jose Mourinho, who famously said his understudy would go on to succeed at management.
Albion have been in good form of late, their general start to the season considered outstanding by many fans and neutrals. Chelsea, as expected, are above them, just dropping behind the Manchester duo to third in recent weeks after consecutive draws with Swansea and Liverpool, although their eight game unbeaten run at the start of the season is a threat to any who underestimate them.
Steve Clarke ruled out Ben Foster for the second game in a row after the former England stopper had minor groin surgery recently. Boaz Myhill, who provided an impressive display against Wigan last Saturday, will keep his place in goal.
Romelu Lukaku is ineligible against his parent club. Steven Reid is finally in full training after missing the last two months with injury and Gareth McAuley and Youssouf Mulumbu are expected to shrug off knocks picked up on international duty.
Chelsea will begin a period of time without influential captain John Terry. The former England skipper sustained a nasty knee ligament injury when colliding with Luis Suarez in the clash with Liverpool last Sunday. Ashley Cole also missed the televised game last weekend, although his chances are now quite likely. There are still doubts, however, over Frank Lampard's potential participation.
- The Baggies' 1-0 win over Chelsea in March signalled the end of Andre Villas-Boas' reign - and also earned Albion their first win over the Blues in 12 Premier League attempts.
- Chelsea have conceded four away goals this season, Albion have conceded four home goals.
- Steve Clarke made 421 appearances while at the west London club.
- The hosts are the only team in the league not to concede within the first half an hour of matches this campaign.
- Chelsea have used 19 players so far this season - the smallest number of all 20 teams. Seven of their goals this season have been scored by defenders - a record high.
Funnily enough, after pointing out the aforementioned stat that both sides have let in four goals home and away respectively this season, I can't see there being a landslide of goals!
After watching many televised games this year involving Chelsea, the chemistry between the 'creative trio' is extremely impressive, but also vitally important to the Blues. If Albion can prevent Hazard, Oscar and Mata providing a spark, then that will go a long way to gaining a result. The pace of Long, Morrison and Odemwingie will offer, as ever, a dangerous counter.
What do you think the score will be tomorrow? Have your say here at Baggies Banter.
Source: WBA MAD
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