Chelsea are flying high at the top of the Premier League table after their 3-0 victory over Newcastle on Saturday and their crucial 1-0 triumph over title rivals Manchester City at the Etihad last Monday. But Jose Mourinho knows his side cannot afford to rest on their laurels if they are to maintain their challenge at the top, and this is just the sort of tricky fixture that could be their undoing if they are not as professional and determined as they were against Man City.
The added spice that is sprinkled on this fixture comes from the fact that West Brom were very unlucky not to have taken victory when they visited Stamford Bridge in November. The Baggies – then managed by Steve Clarke – were barely a minute away from the three points before a highly contentious penalty was awarded to the home side after Steven Reid was adjudged to have brought down Ramires in the area – a decision that looked wholly incorrect when viewed on the replays.
West Brom are now managed by former Real Betis boss Pepe Mel and the Spaniard will be hoping he can catch the Blues on an off day given the increasingly desperate plight in which his side find themselves. The Baggies are currently in 18th place, just three points ahead of bottom club Fulham but only a point behind Sunderland who occupy that all-important 17th spot. But with only one win from their last 15 in the league, the omens do not look great for Mel’s men.
Having said that, they really haven’t done too badly against Chelsea in recent years; as well as almost beating them at the Bridge in November, the Baggies won on each of the last two occasions they have played the Blues at the Hawthorns, 2-1 in November 2012 and 1-0 in March of the same year. Chelsea have also lost three league matches on the road this term, against Everton, Newcastle and Stoke, and haven’t always found their feet when venturing out of the capital.
Of course, the Blues’ 1-0 victory at Man City last week will give them great confidence of getting the necessary results when playing away, and given they have lost just once in the last 15 we believe there is only one winner likely to emerge from this one. Eden Hazard is the most effective and dangerous midfielder in the Premier League at present and with Willian, Oscar and others offering excellent support, we can’t see how West Brom will be able to avoid defeat on Tuesday. There is some hope drawn from 1-1 draws against Everton and Liverpool in their last two home matches, but we think the Blues have the bit between their teeth at the moment and that they will do enough to get the win… but they’ll certainly have to work for it.
LCN Verdict: Chelsea to win 3-1