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The Hawthorns

PRE-MATCH BRIEFING: WEST BROMWICH ALBION V CHELSEA

TACTICAL BRIEF
Having slipped to third, Chelsea travel to the team in fifth. All the Blues may have to be at the top of their game to achieve victory, says former winger Clive Walker.

Key battles
'Don't underestimate Steve Clarke's West Bromwich Albion. That's what I think Robbie Di Matteo will be drilling into his players' heads,' says Walker. 'They look a team that's quite capable of stopping us in our tracks and we must not let that happen.

'That's why I believe a key factor will be the mental approach of each team. At our best we have looked fluent and together, but a lot of our players are still finding out about each other. You sense that the kind of team confidence is coming but not always there yet; that comes from extended runs of good results.

'West Brom's rise has not come so much from one or two top performers as their team mentality and work ethic.

'Of course, the likes of powerful midfielder Youssouf Mulumbu (pictured below) have been decent this season, but there are teams we have faced with better individuals. Saturday is about us locking horns with them all over the park because Clarkey has obviously got something going on there.

Mulumbu and Ramires


'I'm sure he would like to prove a point against his old club. He will know our scouts have been watching them play a certain way but he has the players to change tactics and it would not surprise me if he made a few tweaks to his system to throw us. West Brom's team is not quite as familiar to our lads as some other contenders for European places will be.

'In the early stages, which can be so important, Clarkey could throw a spanner in the works. So we have to ensure that we dictate the tempo and flow: front foot, early on.

'West Brom have used quite a tight-knit few players to date and Clarkey is saying a few internationals picked up knocks. We'll take all the help we can get.

'People have latched onto the fact we've not scored so many in recent games, but this Chelsea team, with the creativity on offer, will create chances all season.

'It needs a good, high tempo start and to have the killer instinct. They're still bonding and finding the formula.

'Obviously we are letting in easy goals too easily. In years gone by we would have won the last two league games. We are switching off - a series of mistakes and all of a sudden we have a setback. This season we seem to need to get two goals at least to kill teams off - that could be the case this weekend.

'Obviously John Terry's absence through injury doesn't help at the back but David Luiz and Gary Cahill have done okay when JT has been unavailable. Branislav Ivanovic is equally good in there and Cesar Azpilicueta showed good signs of settling into English football when he played. I would imagine Brana will return to right-back though.

'West Brom do not launch it. They don't really have the typical hold-up man either. They have hard-working forwards who run the channels. Our back line has to be spot on watching for the ball slipped through to the man behind.

'Romelu Lukaku is unavailable of course, and he's played quite regularly for them and caused problems even for the likes of Man City.

'They use the width well and tend to have a good tempo and movement to their game when they're in possession. The problem they face is when they lose the ball too close to their own goal, which is what Chelsea have to be looking to force with good pressing.

'Sometimes the Baggies can almost move the ball too quickly for their own good. Fernando Torres, Oscar and Eden Hazard are terrific at robbing the opposition high up the pitch. I feel that could be West Brom's Achilles heel. Ben Foster will also be missed, though they have Boaz Myhill to come in.

'I think we will push up on them, squeeze play, and have Petr Cech ready to play as a sweeper. We cannot sit deep; if we do, we could have problems.

'We need to dictate play, ensure our most dangerous players see a lot of the ball. When they do, our quality attacking players need to be on top of their game.

'I'd love to see Torres playing with the same confidence he had at the start of this season. He's still working hard for the most part and strikers thrive on regular starts. His luck will turn and we will see a different player then.'

Squad fitness news
Ashley Cole may return after a hamstring strain but Frank Lampard (calf) remains out, as is John Terry (knee). David Luiz recovered from the illness that kept him out of the Liverpool game to play for Brazil midweek.

West Brom are without first-choice goalkeeper Ben Foster (groin) so Boaz Myhill will play.

There is a doubt over defender Gareth McAuley who was injured on duty for Northern Ireland but midfielder Youssouf Mulumbu (hamstring) may be fit after missing the internationals.


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PRE-MATCH BRIEFING: WEST BROMWICH ALBION V CHELSEA

CHELSEA STATS
Chelsea are unbeaten away in the league this term. Our last defeat was at Liverpool in May, six games ago.

The Blues are 10 points better off after 11 games compared to the corresponding games last season.

Liverpool was the eighth occasion we opened the scoring in a Barclays Premier League game this term and the second game in succession we didn't go onto win the game.

Chelsea have won just two points from the last nine available.

Although we haven't kept a clean sheet in six Premier League matches (eight in all games), only Stoke and West Ham (five) have kept more than Chelsea's four.

Last six results
Oct 23 Shakhtar Donetsk (Champions League a) L 1-2
Oct 28 Manchester United (h) L 2-3
Oct 31 Manchester United (League Cup h) W 5-4 aet
Nov 3 Swansea (a) D 1-1
Nov 7 Shakhtar Donetsk (Champions League h) W 3-2
Nov 11 Liverpool (h) D 1-1



Premier League scorers
Mata 4, Torres 4, Ivanovic 3, Lampard 3 (2 pens), Cahill 2, Hazard 2 (1 pen), Cole 1, Moses 1, Ramires 1, Sturridge 1, Terry 1. Total 23


League games since
An away win: 1
An away draw: 0
An away defeat: 5


Chelsea's next three games
Tue 20 Nov Juventus (Champions League) away 7.45pm
Sun 25 Nov Manchester City home 4pm
Wed 28 Nov Fulham home 7.45pm

 

ALBION STATS
Formed
1878

Major trophies
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

This season is West Brom's best ever start to a Premier League campaign.

The Baggies have won 15 points from a possible 18 at The Hawthorns this term. Only Manchester City have a better home record.

At The Hawthorns they have won five against Liverpool, Everton, Reading, QPR and Southampton and lost one to a stoppage-time Edin Dzeko winner against Manchester City in October.

West Brom have opened the scoring in eight of their 11 Premier League games so far. They have gone onto win six of them. Only Manchester City came from behind to take all three points.

Only Stoke (one) and Sunderland (three) have conceded fewer goals at home than the Baggies four.


Manager Steve Clarke
Days in charge: 145
Played 13
Won 7
Drawn 2
Lost 4


ALBION'S LAST 10 YEARS LEAGUE HISTORY

Since 2002 West Brom have moved seven times between the top two divisions.
Pts Pos Division Level
2002/03 26 19th Premier League 1
2003/04 86 2nd League Division One 2
2004/05 34 17th Premier League 1
2005/06 30 19th Premier League 1
2006/07 76 4th Championship 2
2007/08 81 1st Championship 2
2008/09 32 20th Premier League 1
2009/10 91 2nd Championship 2
2010/11 47 11th Premier League 1
2011/12 47 10th Premier League 1

 

 

PMB

 

Last six results
Sep 30 Aston Villa (a) D 1-1
Oct 6 QPR (h) W 3-2
Oct 20 Manchester City (h) L 1-2
Oct 28 Newcastle (a) L 1-2
Nov 5 Southampton (h) W 2-0
Nov 10 Wigan (a) W 2-1

 

2012/13 Premier League scorers
Long 3, Lukaku 3, Morrison 3, Odemwingie 3 (1 pen), Gera 2, McAuley 1, Mulumbu 1, own goal 1. Total 17.


League games since
A home win: 0
A home draw: 7
A home defeat: 1


WEST BROM MAJOR SUMMER MOVES
Ins
Ben Foster (Birmingham, £3m), Markus Rosenberg (Werder Bremen, free), Claudio Yacob (Racing Club de Avellanede, free), Romelu Lukaku (Chelsea, loan), Goran Popov (Dynamo Kiev, loan), Yassine El Ghanassy (Gent, loan)
Outs Simon Cox (Nottingham Forest, £2m), Keith Andrews (Bolton, free), Marton Fulop (released), Paul Scharner (Hamburg, free), Nicky Shorey (Reading, free), Somen Tchoyi (released)


THE MAN IN THE MIDDLE
Michael Oliver is the official for his second Chelsea match this term. He was the referee in our 1-0 win against Stoke at Stamford Bridge in September (Incidentally the Blues' last league clean sheet). Chelsea have won both matches officiated by Oliver to date.


OTHERWISE ENGAGED
There are no suspensions.

Romelu Lukaku is unable play due to the terms of his loan.

David Luiz and Ramires are one domestic booking away from a one-match suspension for five yellow cards.

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