Chelsea return to league action on Wednesday night as they aim to complete a league double over West Brom. The Baggies are three points and two places ahead of the Blues in the table as things stand, but Guus Hiddink will be hoping his side can keep up their good recent form and leapfrog their opponents. Can they avoid another setback and take maximum points here?
Chelsea will have to go into this game without Eden Hazard, who continues to be out after coming off against Crystal Palace. Many are wondering just how serious his injury is, given how it didn’t seem too serious at the time. With rumours circulating about a move or PSG or Real Madrid, is the Belgian trying to avoid playing, or does the manager think he’s not mentally right to feature yet?
Either way, the midfield trio of Willian, Oscar and Pedro should be enough to get through this game. Pedro scored on his debut against the Baggies in August, so hopefully he can get back to scoring ways here. On top of that, Rueben Loftus-Cheek was on target against Scunthorpe, and he could be pushing for a starting berth, given how impressed Hiddink was with the youngster’s contribution.
Either way, they’ll likely need an attacking edge in midfield, with Diego Costa set to miss out. He came off against Scunthorpe, and he’s not expected to be back in time for this midweek clash. Loic Remy should step in up front, giving the forward a deserved chance under the new manager.
West Brom head here in rather mixed form; they’ve had a pretty inconsistent season which has seen them rooted in mid-table. With Tony Pulis at the helm, it’s hard to see them going down, but they’ve not yet kicked on under the Welshman. His time at the Hawthorns hasn’t been as impressive as his spell at Crystal Palace was, but this is a team that you can’t really write off.
Expect them to be functional and organised against the Blues, which could prove a tall task to oppose with Costa out. He’s so often the battering ram that takes down a camped defence, and without him the team may struggle to find an opening. It may well take another moment of brilliance from Willian to carve through the Baggies here. Aside from the Brazilian, there won’t be that much in the way of goalscoring threat in the team on Wednesday night.
Hiddink’s approach does feel more open than Moruinho’s, however, as we’ve been seeing the full backs pushing on and more midfield runners getting into the box. The Dutchman’s approach is much more forward thinking, so hopefully that will help get through a team parking the bus at the Bridge. A win here would give them momentum ahead of another home game on Saturday, in a week which could truly get the Blues up and running in the league.
LCN Verdict: Chelsea to win 2-0