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West Brom v Chelsea


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.

Key battles
'I liked seeing Oscar, Eden Hazard and Victor Moses combining on Victor's tap-in at Middlesbrough. That goal showed the kind of one-touch stuff we saw more of earlier in the season.

'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.

West Brom v Chelsea

'Behind him Albion have James Morrison and Chris Brunt and their crosses did for us at the Hawthorns. We didn't have John Terry or Frank Lampard in that game.

'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.'

Squad fitness news
Only Yossi Benayoun (ankle) and Oriol Romeu (knee) are out for Chelsea. Gary Cahill and Cesar Azpilicueta are back from illness and a leg injury respectively.

Striker Shane Long (ankle) is a doubt for West Brom.

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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.

If selected, Ashley Cole will make his 200th Premier League start for Chelsea and David Luiz will make his 50th Premier League start


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

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
Played 31
Won 13
Drawn 5
Lost 13


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





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
Ins None
Outs Craig Dawson (Bolton, loan), Yassine El Ghanassy (Heerenveen, loan), Gonzalo Jara (Nottingham Forest, loan)

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.

David Luiz and Ramires are two bookings away from a two-match domestic ban for reaching 10 yellow cards before the second Sunday of April.

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