It's become a bit of a jokey cliche over the past few weeks, but Chelsea face yet another toughest test this weekend as West Brom come to town for a high noon showdown on Sunday. Unfortunately, there is some substance to this, as West Brom, who are annoying even when playing badly, are in a good moment, as are our midweek opponents Sunderland coming up after.
Having passed toughest tests against Southampton, Manchester United, Spurs, Manchester City, and others, Chelsea have now won eight league games in a row. The true toughest tests now become things such as complacency, overconfidence, burnout. Every next game in the winning streak is the toughest match.
Chelsea start the weekend with a three-point lead at the top of the table over Arsenal, who play Stoke City at home on Saturday. Manchester City have the late game today, while Liverpool have the late game on Sunday. None of the top four can afford dropped points. It's thus imperative that Chelsea get all three in this one.
Date / Time: Sunday, December 11, 2016, 12:00 GMT; 7am EST; 5:30pm IST
Venue: Stamford Bridge, SW6
Referee: Mike Dean — the career leader in Chelsea games refereed, Dean will take charge of his 62nd Chelsea match on Sunday. Last time we saw him we lost 3-0 to Manchester City at the Bridge in April.
Forecast: Mild but chance of heavy showers
On TV: BT Sport 1 (UK): NBCSN (USA); Star Sports Select HD1 (India); elsewhere
Online: BT Sport Live (UK); NBC Sports Live Extra (USA); Star Sports
Chelsea team news: Chelsea made a change to the starting lineup for the first time in seven games last weekend, but whether Conte will give Fàbregas another start or Willian an expanded role remains to be seen. John Terry (injury) and Oscar (illness) are confirmed out, but the biggest concern is the availability of David Luiz, who's been trying to recover from Sergio Aguero's moment of madness all week long. Everyone else should be good to go.
After two+ months, the rest of the Premier League are starting to figure out how to combat the 3-4-3. We are likely to persist with it until it stops working.
West Brom team news: Saido Berahino is the one major, long-term injury for the Baggies. The exciting young forward has been back in training in some capacity, but is nowhere near ready to play.
After winning just two games in the first two months of the season in all competitions, West Brom have won three of their last four games and are in a rather lofty seventh, just one point behind Manchester United. For more on the Baggies and Tony Pulis, be sure to read Rob's hilarious opposition analysis.
Previously: Here's what happened last time, as the teams split the points at the Bridge at the start of this calendar year.