Sat 02 Mar 2013 15:00 (Attendance: 41,548)
March begins with the month's only Saturday fixture. Club historian Rick Glanvill and club statistician Paul Dutton build up to the traditional kick-off time with their traditional preview…
Following a thoroughly efficient 2-0 victory at the Riverside in the FA Cup the focus swings back to main business of any football club, the league campaign. West Brom were the second competitive visitors to Stamford Bridge way back in 1905.
In the present day Chelsea have enjoyed home wins on the spin in the Barclays Premier League and we have a 100 per cent home record against the Baggies, who are managed by popular former Chelsea player and coach, Steve Clarke.
Albion will also be without another Blue, their man of the moment, Romelu Lukaku. The striker, benefiting from playing regularly, has netted six of the Baggies' last 10 goals but is ineligible under the terms of his loan from Stamford Bridge.
As a result of Chelsea's progress to the quarter-finals our Premier League trip to Fulham on Sunday 10 March is now postponed. Instead, on the date our club was founded 108 years ago, we travel to Old Trafford to face Manchester United.
Although a fixtures snarl-up caused by a replay against Boro was avoided, rescheduling the Craven Cottage match will hand other sides the chance to steal an advantage, however temporarily, in the fight for Champions League places.
The club's intensive schedule finally eases in a fortnight's time - but not for internationals, some of whom will play twice either side of the weekend of 23/24 March.
When West Brom beat the Blues 2-1 in mid-November it nudged them into third spot, the high water mark of their season to date.They have lost eight of the 15 games since and Clarke has occasionally deployed two strikers in an attempt to turn their fortunes around.
The visitors have won their last two matches, at Liverpool and at home to Sunderland, have played 17 fewer games this season than Chelsea and are now back up to seventh. They will be well aware the hosts have won just three of our last eight Premier League games.
The European champions can enjoy the fact two rivals for third and fourth spot face each other this weekend, Arsenal (currently one point behind the Blues) travelling to White Hart Lane to play Spurs (two ahead) on Sunday afternoon.
Never the less Chelsea are the league's second highest scorers with 55 in 27 matches, 17 more than the Baggies.
Victor Moses's tap-in against Boro was his second in three FA Cup matches and his first since returning from success at the Africa Cup of Nations. Had he been away at, say, the European Championships, it would be unusual immediately to resume club duties, so credit to the Nigerian winger for his rapid recovery.
Nathan Aké, just 18 years old, who put in an accomplished performance on Teesside as a deep-lying midfielder, became Chelsea's third youngest overseas player to start a match.
Finland-born Mikael Forssell was aged 17 and 11 months on his full debut against Oxford United in February 1999, while Joel Kitamirike (born in Uganda) was just 17 years and six months old when named in the line-up against Hapoel Tel-Aviv in the UEFA Cup in October 2001.
Barclays Premier League fixtures
Chelsea v West Brom 3pm
Everton v Reading 3pm
Manchester United v Norwich 3pm
Southampton v QPR 3pm
Stoke v West Ham 3pm
Sunderland v Fulham 3pm
Swansea v Newcastle 3pm
Wigan v Liverpool 5.30pm - ESPN
Tottenham v Arsenal 4pm - Sky Sports
Aston Villa v Manchester City 8pm - PldGdPts
|Barclays Premier League top eight|
The race for the Premier League Golden Boot
Robin van Persie (Manchester Utd) 19
Luis Suarez (Liverpool) 18
Bale (Tottenham) 15
Michu (Swansea) 15
Demba Ba (13 for Newcastle) 14
Race for the Premier League Golden Glove
Joe Hart (Manchester City) 12
Petr Cech 9
Asmir Begovic (Stoke) 9
Simon Mignolet (Sunderland) 9
Click on tabs above for more briefing.
After defeat by City at Eastlands last weekend Chelsea need a rapid return to winning ways in the league. Former winger Clive Walker considers how the Blues might best beat the Baggies.
'If you think of Hazard in pre-season and what he took into the campaign, you could see he is the type who is going to liven things up. He was off the boil a little over the winter, but at times again now he is outstanding. He's still a young lad and he's learning very quickly and is adding things all the time.
'The attacking midfielders all showed they're of the same make-up, playing that dazzling, creative football. But it can be sporadic. Against West Brom, who will come to defend, it would be a great time to see it.
'Rafael Benitez rested several players at Boro and young Nathan Ake excelled. He grew better and better as the game went on - absolutely terrific. In the early stages his enthusiasm got the better of him a little but had others gone with his drive we would have taken the game more to Boro and possibly overpowered them. Obviously West Brom are not a Championship side but that appetite Ake showed is required against anyone.
'We also need patience and possession in the final third. West Brom boss Steve Clarke knows us very, very well and will be itching to cause us problems. He'll want his side extremely disciplined and would settle for draw. The onus is on us to break them down.
'Goran Popov is suspended but Liam Ridgewell is experienced at left-back although he started his career in the centre. In fact one area Chelsea could exploit is between Ridgewell and the big lad Jonas Olsson, who plays left of centre. With the style we play there has to be an opportunity to isolate Ridgewell or draw Olsson out of the centre to create gaps. Our midfielders have been weighing in with goals from those areas.
'Romelu Lukaku a big miss for the Baggies. He has the most shots, most on target and most offsides for them, same as Torres for Chelsea.
'He's done excellently - a huge pat of the back - and he'll be a much better player whenever he comes back to us. Replacing him is a difficult one for Clarkey. But he missed the game at the Hawthorns and Shane Long (pictured below) caused us a lot of problems.
'Long isn't your classic target man, but he works, stretches defences and is not frightened of chasing anything until he gets a break. He asks questions of a defence' decision-making by taking up positions that could or could not be offside.
'Chelsea will need plenty of concentration at the back because West Brom have lots of players who can pick a pass.
'The player who scored the winner against us last time, Peter Odemwingie, is a bit better known these days for his transfer deadline day episode.
'He seems to have been rehabilitated - he played in their win against Sunderland - and has been a decent player for them.
'Always when there's a North London derby we're all hoping both teams lose, but especially this time with things so tight at the top. A draw between those sides would suit us.
'First and foremost we have to do our job the day before. We have to rally and get the win under our belt at all costs.'
Striker Shane Long (ankle) is a doubt for West Brom.
Click on tabs above for more briefing.
WE HAVE HISTORY
Chelsea are looking to extend our unbeaten home run against West Bromwich to 12 games in all competitions. The Baggies last win against us was here in November 1983 in the League Cup third round at Stamford Bridge. The 11 game run consists of 10 wins and one draw.
Almost exactly a year later Albion visited in the league on a cold afternoon shrouded in a misty pall.
Chelsea were always the more decisive and creative on the day, with a midfield that hit the right balance between style and urgency. Mickey Thomas was left out in favour of promising homegrown Keith Jones and went home to Wales for the weekend. While Jones passed and supported, Pat Nevin consistently showed off his myriad skills while hard-working forward David Speedie delivered the coup des graces.
'That Nevin,' enthused Albion defender Jimmy Nichol afterwards. 'You think you've closed him down and then he's in at you again. And Speedie is so good.'
A typically sparkling Nevin run in the 17th minute set up Speedie for the Blues' first. The two Scots had taken time to click off the field but on it there was a wonderful understanding.
After the interval Speedie chipped for Doug Rougvie to score a rare header before hooking in the third to make it four goals in four games for him.
The Baggies' powerful striker Gary Thompson, battened down by centre-back Joe McLaughlin for most of the game, hit a consolation goal five minutes from the end. John Hollins' side won 3-1 and rose to sixth in Division One.
The last occasion the Baggies came away from the Bridge with a league win was in September 1978 when Ron Atkinson managed the side to a 3-1 victory. Goals came from John Wile, Cyrille Regis and Tony Brown. Steve Wicks scored for Chelsea.
Our last 10 league meetings at Stamford Bridge
1978/79 - West Brom won 3-1 - Division One
1984/85 - Chelsea won 3-1 - Division One
1985/86 - Chelsea won 3-0 - Division One
1988/89 - Drew 1-1 - Division Two
2002/03 - Chelsea won 2-0 - Premier League
2004/05 - Chelsea won 1-0 - Premier League
2005/06 - Chelsea won 4-0 - Premier League
2008/09 - Chelsea won 2-0 - Premier League
2010/11 - Chelsea won 6-0 - Premier League
2011/12 - Chelsea won 2-1 - Premier League
Reverse fixture this season
17 November 2012 Barclays Premier League
West Brom.……..……2 Chelsea………..……1
Long 9 Hazard 39
West Bromwich Albion v Chelsea in all competitions
Games played 128
Chelsea wins 53
Baggies wins 42
Head to head in the league at Stamford Bridge
Games played 56
Chelsea wins 28
Baggies wins 14
Biggest league win at Stamford Bridge for each team
Chelsea 7-1 West Brom - 03/12/1960
Chelsea 2-5 West Brom - 17/04/1929
Chelsea dropped points at Stamford Bridge against the Baggies: 8,827
West Brom won away: 19
Arsenal won a trophy: 2,841
Liverpool won the league: 8,336
Visit again tomorrow for part two of the Briefing.
Of the 17 occasions Chelsea have opened the scoring in the Barclays Premier League this season, we have gone on to win 12 games and draw four. Only West Ham have defeated us.
Chelsea still have the Premier League's second best scoring and defensive records this term.
The Blues are eight points better off compared to the corresponding 27 fixtures last season.
We have gained 12 points from losing positions this term.
We have dropped 14 points from winning positions.
|Last six results|
|Feb 9||Wigan (h)||W 4-1|
|Feb 14||Sparta Prague (Europa League a)||W 1-0|
|Feb 17||Brentford (FA Cup h)||W 4-0|
|Feb 21||Sparta Prague (Europa League h)||D 1-1|
|Feb 24||Manchester City (a)||L 0-2|
|Feb 27||Middlesbrough (FA Cup 5 a)||W 2-0|
Premier League scorers
Lampard 11 (4 pens), Mata 10, E Hazard 7 (1 pen), Torres 7 (1 pen), Ivanovic 4, Ramires 4, Cahill 2, Ba 1, Cole 1, D Luiz 1, Marin 1, Moses 1, Oscar 1 (pen), Sturridge 1, Terry 1, own goals 2. Total 55
League games since
A home win: 0
A home draw: 2
A home defeat: 3
|Chelsea's next three games|
|Thu 7 Mar||Steaua Bucharest (Europa Lge rd of 16) away||6pm UK time|
|Sun 10 Mar||Manchester United (FA Cup QF a) away||4.30pm|
|Thu 14 Mar||Steaua Bucharest (Europa Lge rd of 16) home||8.05pm|
Frank Lampard needs one goal to reach 200 goals for Chelsea and three to equal our all-time top scorer Bobby Tambling.
Frank's next game will be his 592nd, equalling John Hollins as third highest all-time appearance maker behind Ron Harris 795 and Peter Bonetti 729.
Juan Mata's next appearance will be his 100th for the Blues.
1 League championship, in 1920
5 FA Cups, last in 1968
1 League Cup, in 1966
2 FA Charity/Community Shields (1 shared), last in 1954
The Baggies have won their last two league games, with Romelu Lukaku scoring three of their four goals. Those wins ended a run of one point from 18 since the 29 December.
On-loan Lukaku, unavailable for this game, has scored 12 Premier League goals for the Baggies in 12 starts plus 13 appearances as sub.
West Brom have won 11 of the 14 games when they opened the scoring.
They have kept just one clean sheet in their last 10 league outings which was at Anfield three weeks ago.
The Baggies have won 14 points from a possible 39 on the road this term. They have won at Wigan, Sunderland, QPR and Liverpool, drawn at Tottenham and Aston Villa and lost at Fulham, Newcastle, Swansea, Arsenal, Manchester United, Reading and Everton.
Manager Steve Clarke
Days in charge: 250
ALBION'S LAST 10 YEARS LEAGUE HISTORY
|Since 2002 West Brom have moved seven times between the top two divisions.|
|2003/04||86||2nd||League Division One||2|
|Last six results|
|Jan 15||QPR (FA Cup h)||L 0-1|
|Jan 19||Aston Villa (h)||D 2-2|
|Jan 30||Everton (a)||L 1-2|
|Feb 3||Tottenham (h)||L 0-1|
|Feb 11||Liverpool (a)||W 2-0|
|Feb 23||Sunderland (h)||W 2-1|
2012/13 Premier League scorers
Lukaku 12 (2 pens), Long 6, Odemwingie 5 (1 pen), Gera 4, Morrison 3, Brunt 2, McAuley 2, Fortune 1, Mulumbu 1, own goal 2. Total 38.
League games since
An away win: 0
An away draw: 10
An away defeat: 1
Baggies completed January transfers
Outs Craig Dawson (Bolton, loan), Yassine El Ghanassy (Heerenveen, loan), Gonzalo Jara (Nottingham Forest, loan)
THE MAN IN THE MIDDLE
Kevin Friend, who refereed the Capital One Cup final last week, is the official for the first time at Stamford Bridge this term. His two previous Blues games were at Swansea in the Premier League in November and the Community Shield against Manchester City at Villa Park.
West Brom's Goran Popov is suspended.
Romelu Lukaku is ineligible due to the terms of his loan.
A single Demba Ba goal, scored from close-range in the first half, gave Chelsea a third home league win in a row.
The Blues had the chances for more goals, Oscar in particular having a frustrating afternoon in front of the target, but it was a game that only found a high gear on a few occasions. The handful of times West Brom did threaten the Chelsea goal they found Petr Cech on-form and unbeatable. There was some neat approach play at times from the home team who claimed a deserved victory.
Frank Lampard returned to midfield to become Chelsea's joint third highest appearance maker of all-time and played alongside Ramires. Ahead was Juan Mata making it 100 Chelsea games in less than two years for the Spanaird who operated behind the returning Ba, with Oscar and Eden Hazard the wide midfielders.
West Brom, without on-loan Romelu Lukaku, were able to pass Shane Long fit to play as a lone striker. Their defence was unchanged but they drafted in Graham Dorrans and and Marc-Antoine Fortune to play wide in a 4-2-3-1 shape, mirroring Chelsea and a change from their recent 4-4-2.
With Tottenham having gone ahead of Chelsea in the table last weekend and the north London derby to come on Sunday afternoon, this game at the Bridge was all about winning the three points to put added pressure on Spurs and Arsenal ahead of that clash.
Oscar could, and probably should have put the Blues in front with just three minutes played, the chance made by an exquisite ball by Ba who had taken possession out wide and passed low and out of reach of West Brom's retreating central defence. It came to Oscar just eight yards out but his first-time stab was pushed wide by Ben Foster.
Mata shot across the face of goal and wide moments later before West Brom counter-punched with a Steven Reid free-kick, arrowed past the Chelsea defensive wall. Cech had taken up the correct position and tipped it over the bar.
With 15 minutes played, Oscar was again found on the edge of the six-yard box and in a central position, this time by a Mata cross after Ramires had made in-roads with a run through the middle. The Brazilian's header was straight at Foster. The mask-free Ba was next to find the West Brom keeper's hands, with a skidding shot.
Chelsea were pushing hard for an opener and Hazard, scorer of an important goal in the previous outing at the Bridge, was the player who looked most on his game, frequently coming deep or switching wings to get the team playing.
West Brom were limited in their ambition at this stage of the contest but their many bodies back could not prevent Chelsea having a shot on goal when Yacob fouled Oscar. David Luiz took the free-kick and it was made harder for Foster when it deflected up off the wall, but the former England keeper made it to the top corner to claw the ball wide.
From the corner that followed, the Blues opened the scoring. Oscar and Lampard combined to send a cross to the far post where David Luiz did well to head down and back to Ba. From six yards out the Senegalese swept the ball home. There were 27 minutes played.
Mata went close soon after and then Oscar sweetly half-volleyed a Mata corner. It looked net-bound until a West Brom leg kicked it wide. Oscar wasn't having the luck in front of goal. He and Azpilicueta had further shots blocked.
Chelsea had been well on top but would have liked more than a single-goal lead to take into the dressing room at the break to reflect that balance of play. Fortune's strong running down the right had caused some difficulties for the home team on odd occasions but the early free-kick apart, Cech had been largely untroubled.
There was decent applause for the players for their first-half performance as they went down the tunnel, but a hobbling Ramires was assisted by the medical staff as he made the journey.
Ramires recovered during the interval and took his place among two unchanged sides at the kick-off.
The wait for the 200th Lampard goal continued. Mata ran offside before squaring a Hazard pass to Lamps to find the net early in the half and then the captain on the day hit a free-kick into the wall.
Hazard was the game's first booked player for a late challenge near the corner flag. Chelsea had the Baggies penned well back.
Hazard later believed he should have had a penalty when he and Olsson collided in the area. It was side-to-side contact and the ref waved play on.
There was an hour played and time was becoming an increasing concern for the trailing visitors. Steve Clarke made his first change - Peter Odemwingie coming on for Fortune.
A foul was given for a challenge on Hazard by McAuley and it warranted a booking. This was wide outside the area however and the free-kick was cleared.
David Luiz took his turn to fire a free-kick into the wall before, on 77 minutes, yet another instalment of the dual between Oscar and Foster ended in the keeper's favour. Azpilicueta had sent over a speculative cross that Ba headed down well, but the shot from the no.11 was too straight.
Moses came on for Hazard soon after, the first Chelsea change, but before the substitute touched the ball, Oscar collected a throw and turned and wriggled into enough space to properly test Foster with an angled shot. This time it needed a diving stop to deny the Chelsea midfielder.
The value of the insurance of a second goal was emphasised when the best was brought out of Cech twice in a minute; the first time from an Odemwingie free-kick and then from close-range by a deflection off Azpilicueta as he tried to defend a corner.
Lampard volleyed well over as that goal proved beyond the Blues and as we survived four minutes added time there were some strong defensive headers inside our area. Cech was asked to save one more low shot before Demba Ba's first goal since mid-January proved enough to win the three points.
Chelsea (4-2-3-1): Cech; Azpilicueta, Ivanovic, David Luiz, Cole; Ramires, Lampard (c); Hazard (Moses 80), Mata (Mikel 90+4), Oscar; Ba (Torres 87).
Unused subs Turnbull, Cahill, Terry, Bertrand.
Scorer Ba 28
Booked Hazard 55.
West Brom (4-2-3-1): Foster; Reid, McAuley, Olsson (c), Ridgewell; Mulumbu, Yacob (Rosenberg 82); Fortune (Odemwingie 61), Morrison, Dorrans (Thomas 70); Long.
Unused subs: Myhill, Jones, Tamas, Brown.
Booked McAuley 64, Odemwingie 84.
Referee Kevin Friend.