After rebounding from the shock defeat at St. James' Park last weekend with a second comfortable 3-0 win over Schalke in the week, Chelsea will be looking to get their Premier League form turned around at home to West Bromwich Albion. Much like Newcastle, the Midlands side could prove to be another banana skin for the Blues. The Baggies started the season slowly, but have found their feet after integrating summer signings Stephane Sessegnon, Morgan Amalfitano, and Victor Anichebe, and the emergence of future England international Saido Berahino.
Given Chelsea's recent history with West Brom -- two away losses directly-preceding the sackings of Mourinho's two direct successors as permanent Chelsea manager -- one can be forgiven for being cautious about the home side's chances tomorrow. Adding to their fortunes against Chelsea are creditable results against big teams this season. The Baggies beat Manchester United at Old Trafford and held Arsenal to a draw at the Hawthorns the very next week.
Fortunately for Chelsea, Albion are an up-and-down club in terms of form. Following their good results against United and Arsenal, they slumped to a limp draw away to Stoke and were thrashed by a Luis Suarez-inspired Liverpool at Anfield. Last week saw them record a 2-0 win over Premier League strugglers Crystal Palace. Despite the victory, the facts are not with the Baggies this week. Not only has Jose Mourinho still never lost at home in the Premier League, winning every game this season, but West Brom are winless at Stamford Bridge for 35 years. They haven't even taken a point off Chelsea at home in my lifetime.
If previous form is worth anything, this should be a comfortable win for the Blues. Unfortunately, records are made to be broken. Steve Clarke is a talented manager capable of springing a surprise on anyone. Chelsea should be wary of committing too many men forward tomorrow, given the counter-attacking credentials of West Brom, which were demonstrated so effectively at Old Trafford.
Behind the speedy attackers, the first-choice midfield of Claudio Yacob and Youssouf Mulumbu is one of the more solid in the Premier League. While the centre backs Jonas Olsson and Gareth MacAuley aren't as young as they were, they're still a solid unit, and dangerous at set pieces. With the addition of solid full backs Steven Reid and Liam Ridgewell, the Baggies should prove to be a tough side to break down.
Date/Time: Saturday, 9 November 2013, 15:00 GMT; 10:00am EST; 20:30 IST
Venue/Location: Stamford Bridge, SW6 London, England
Forecast: Cool, with light rain throughout the morning, and mixed sun and clouds later in the day.
On TV: NBC Sports Network [English], Mun2 [Español] (USA); Star Sports 4 India (India) [NB: This match will not be televised live in the UK]
Other: Chelsea TV [Audio only] (UK), NBC Sports Live Extra, Sirius XM FC, (USA)
Chelsea Team News: Chelsea have a nearly full-strength squad to choose from, with only Fernando Torres and Marco van Ginkel out with injury. Those rested, dropped, and/or punished for the mid-week visit of Schalke should be back in the first-team picture. Eden Hazard will be back in the squad following his punishment for missing training earlier this week. The Belgian made an unauthorised trip to France and lost his passport in the process.
West Bromwich Albion Team News: While there could be more than one ex-Chelsea reunion this weekend, it appears both Scott Sinclair and Nicolas Anelka will be unable to return from injury in time to take part. Victor Anichebe, however, will be fit to play up front. The only other injuries are Billy Jones, who has been talked about as a potential surprise call-up for England and Ben Foster. Jones went off against Crystal Palace with a hamstring strain, and will be replaced by Steven Reid. Foster is still recovering from a broken foot suffered early this season. Boaz Myhill will again deputise.