Chelsea put their awful performance against Newcastle last weekend behind them with a comfortable 3-0 win against Schalke on Wednesday. That result has helped them recover their position at the top of Champions League Group E and they now have a great chance of progressing. They will be looking to get their domestic fortunes similarly back on track here with a solid win at the Bridge and few would bet against them so doing.
Aside from a blip against Basel in the Champions League when they lost 2-1, their home form has been stellar. Five wins from five in the Premier League, including a vital 2-1 triumph over Man City have kept them in the hunt for the title and whilst their away form in domestic football has been patchy Jose Mourinho has maintained his sensational home league record.
The Portuguese boss managed a spell of 150 games without suffering a defeat in the league at home, spanning spells at Porto, Chelsea, Inter Milan and Real Madrid. Currently on a run of 36 unbeaten, including 27 wins and four draws at Real and five wins this term, Mourinho’s indomitable spirit and will to win mean losing isn’t an option.
Last weekend’s 2-0 defeat at Newcastle and the poor performance of his team clearly stung the Special One and he got the required response against Schalke and will demand more of the same here.
West Brom are currently down in 11th, having taken 13 points from their opening 10 games and given they have won just once on the road thus far they will not be travelling with too much optimism. That win came at Old Trafford, however, and with a draw at Everton too, the Baggies have proved they are not afraid of travelling to the top sides.
Last season they won at Anfield and drew at Spurs whilst the game at the Bridge was a narrow home win, the match ending 1-0. Mourinho will be well aware of these warning signs and will know his players need to produce the goods to avoid any chance of an upset.
The Blues will again be without Fernando Torres, the Spaniard still suffering from a leg injury but he is the only real concern as Mourinho has all his top players available. Whether he chooses to reinstall Eden Hazard to the squad remains to be seen. Hazard was left out for the Schalke game having reportedly been late for a training session. If the Belgian is punished further, which seems unlikely, Juan Mata could start, although Andre Schurrle seems likely to play on the left instead, with Oscar continuing behind the striker, in this case – most probably – Samuel Eto’o who scored a brace on Wednesday.
The Baggies are without a number of players, with Billy Jones out, Ben Foster and Zoltan Gera both also injured and doubts over former Blues Nicolas Anelka and Scott Sinclair. Whilst the Baggies have some decent players there is a clear gulf in class here and we expect another solid home win and perhaps another Eto’o goal.
LCN verdict: 2-0 to Chelsea