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The Hawthorns


The league leaders travel to the West Midlands with the season two-thirds completed. Club historian Rick Glanvill and club statistician Paul Dutton assess the latest away challenge…

Still a little hoarse from celebrating the weekend's scorelines? Chelsea's ascent to the Barclays Premier League summit was a largely unexpected pleasure. The league's biggest sharpshooters, Manchester City, were firing blanks again at Carrow Road and the Gunners were spiked at Anfield.

With results elsewhere the Blues are now nine points clear of the team in fifth place - effectively 10, taking into account the goal difference advantage - and building up a stranglehold on a Champions League place. With 39 more points still attainable, Chelsea are now the only side capable of matching our own record Premier League tally of 95, set in 2004/05.

Tonight's opponents West Bromwich Albion will be equally fired-up, though: they stumbled 1-3 at Selhurst Park and slumped into the relegation zone.

Chelsea are leaders for the first time since August and it is no coincidence that has happened while the defence has become formidable again. Just two goals have been conceded in the 11 matches in all competitions since the disappointing Capital One Cup defeat at Sunderland.

Our next win will be the 150th during Jose Mourinho's two spells at Stamford Bridge and the next goal scored will be the 400th under his management. His record is:

Played 221, won 149, drawn 46, lost 27; goals scored 399, goals conceded 146.

Chelsea are seeking to equal our club record of six successive away clean sheets in all competitions, previously set in 2007/08. 

Pepe Mel, eventual successor to former Chelsea man Steve Clarke at the Hawthorns, arrived from Spain with a reputation for forging attractive teams under difficult circumstances.

He conducts media conferences in Spanish via a translator but the fact he had been taking English lessons before the call from the Midlands signified his ambition to switch to the Premier League.

He has not had an easy start to life in the Black Country: two points from a possible 12 since 20 January, with a drop from 13th to 18th in the table. It is not the kind of continuity the Hawthorns' board was seeking. The former Real Betis boss's appointment was delayed by a few weeks because he initially preferred bringing in his own backroom staff. Instead he is dovetailing with incumbents such as Keith Downing and Dean Kiely.

The Baggies are unbeaten in their last four games at the Hawthorns and have achieved home draws with Arsenal, Liverpool and Everton this season. However, their tally of four victories all season represents the joint worst in all four English divisions - and half were achieved against opponents reduced to 10 men.

In handing Eden Hazard the ball for a penalty kick to complete his first Chelsea hat-trick, Frank Lampard eschewed the chance to reach his own half century from the spot for the Blues.

The brilliant Belgian now has a dozen Premier League goals this season.

Chelsea v Newcastle

Luis Suarez (Liverpool) 23
Sergio Aguero (Man City) 15
Daniel Sturridge (Liverpool) 15
Eden Hazard 12
Yaya Toure (Man City) 12
Loic Remy (Newcastle) 11

Petr Cech 11
Wojciech Szczesny (Arsenal) 11
Hugo Lloris (Tottenham) 10
Tim Howard (Everton) 9
Jussi Jaaskelainen (West Ham) 8

It is odd how the fixtures continue to fall in Arsenal's favour. Chelsea and Albion had 76 hours apiece to prepare for tonight and the Blues are the only top four side playing this evening. In contrast the Gunners, who kicked off early on Saturday, also have an extra day's rest - which is 27 hours more than their visitors on Wednesday, Manchester United, who played on Sunday afternoon.

Defending champions United have failed to win in three of their last four league matches. The Gunners have won just one of their five games against last season's top four.

Man City were beaten 1-0 away by Sunderland in November and have not scored for two games. Liverpool spanked Fulham 4-0 at Anfield the same weekend and the Whites have earned just one point in 14 games against top half teams.

Barclays Premier League fixtures
Cardiff v Aston Villa 7.45pm - BT Sport
Hull v Southampton 7.45pm
West Brom v Chelsea 8pm
West Ham v Norwich 7.45pm
Arsenal v Manchester United 7.45pm - BT Sport
Everton v Crystal Palace 7.45pm
Fulham v Liverpool 8pm
Manchester City v Sunderland 7.45pm
Newcastle v Tottenham 7.45pm
Stoke v Swansea 7.45pm

Barclays Premier League table - top eight
Pld Gd Pts
1 Chelsea 25 +27 56
2 Arsenal 25 +22 55
3 Man City 25 +41 54
4 Liverpool 25 +33 50
5 Tottenham 25 0 47
6 Everton 25 +11 45
7 Man United 25 +10 41
18 West Brom 25 -8 23
Just seven points separate the bottom 11 clubs.

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Having benefited from the slip-ups of others in the top third of the table it is vital Chelsea press home the advantage again this evening. Jose Mourinho will be determined to remain top as the league campaign makes way for the FA Cup this weekend, and his side return to Eastlands while Arsenal host Liverpool.

Tonight's opponents have already been turfed out of the cup by Crystal Palace and have the luxury of an 11-day gap before their next match action, the crucial visit of fellow relegation strugglers Fulham. After tonight Pepe Mel is using a blank weekend to take the squad to his homeland for warmth and to drill some defensive organisation into them.

Mel faced Mourinho's Real Madrid four times previously as a manager, losing three with an aggregate five goals for, 10 against. His Real Betis side took the lead in two of those games but only held on once, a 1-0 win at Estadio Benito Villamarin in November 2012, despite Mourinho making two half-time substitutions to remedy the situation.

The Portuguese will be determined to improve on Chelsea's successive defeats in this corner of the Black Country but West Brom are the Premier League's prime one-point poachers this campaign. Never higher than mid-table, they have drawn six times in 14 games against sides from the top 10 of the Premier League.

One of those was the 2-2 at the Bridge in November. It might have been worse but for a late, late penalty awarded for a Gareth McAuley foul on Ramires and converted by man of the moment Eden Hazard.

As was the case with visitors Newcastle at the weekend, neither of the Baggies' goalscorers that day are available this evening: Stephane Sessegnon is recuperating from a groin operation and Shane Long has since switched to Hull City.

Influential centre-back Jonas Olsson sustained a hamstring injury nine days ago and is unlikely to feature. Nicolas Anelka, one of the heroes of Chelsea's 2009/10 Double season, is out with a gashed knee.

In Anelka's absence Victor Anichebe has been starting as a lone striker in their 4-2-3-1 system - they had been trying a 4-4-2 with Matej Vydra partnering the Frenchman. It was the former Evertonian who scored the Baggies' equaliser in their recent home draw with Liverpool.

New signing Thievy Bifouma scored in the 1-3 at Crystal Palace with his second touch for new club Albion - the fastest ever by a Premier League debutant. Fellow substitute and striker in that damaging defeat, Saido Berahino, is their league top scorer with four and he has hit six goals in five U21 European Championship qualifiers for England this season. One or both could be handed starts.

Attacking midfielder Zoltan Gera, who played very well on the left in the Throstles' 2-1 win here last season, returned not too long ago from a cruciate injury and is being used sparingly.

Roberto Di Matteo's starting back four that day (his last in the league for Chelsea) was, from left to right, Ryan Bertrand, David Luiz, Gary Cahill and Cesar Azpilicueta, with Mikel and Oriol Romeu in midfield and Victor Moses, Eden Hazard and Daniel Sturridge behind Fernando Torres. Hazard scored his only header for the Blues to date from Azpi's cross.

The Belgian notched up his second career hat-trick on Saturday and his first in blue. He now has six goals in his past eight Premier League appearances and has struck twice in the three meetings with Albion. He now has 21 all-time Premier League goals for the Blues: one more than Hernan Crespo, the same as Gianluca Vialli and Mark Stein.

He is in remarkable form and will have watched the Baggies' defending at Selhurst with relish. Goalkeeper Ben Foster was, perhaps, fortunate not to be shown any colour card when conceding a penalty for Palace's third.

The Throstles appear disorderly at set-plays and vulnerable in defensive midfield, where the Blues have been so strong in recent weeks, especially since the return of the imperious Nemanja Matic. At 6ft 4in the Serb has bolstered a team bettered only by Stoke in aerial battles won.

Chelsea's fast, incisive and fluid open play should also cause the hosts problems, especially if Olsson does not make the team. However, Chris Brunt and Youssouf Mulumbu (pictured below) form a hard-working and very physical defensive midfield screen.

Ramires in action against West Bromwich Albion

Of the two full-backs, right-sided Billy Jones (an injury doubt) likes to run with the ball but can lack discipline at times and may find himself under pressure to rein in his attacking side. Mel sacrificed the less athletic left-back Liam Ridgewell during half-time at Selhurst and switched to three at the back.

Fernando Torres is available for selection tonight for the first time since leaving the field injured during our 3-1 win over Manchester United. He had scored in successive away games at Hull and Southampton prior to that setback.

Ramires was rested at the weekend and could return on the right of midfield. A slight muscle problem will keep John Terry out until Saturday evening's return to the Etihad. Newcastle was the first Premier League game the skipper had missed all season. Gary Cahilll and David Luiz, who looked an equally assured centre-back partnership, should continue their roles.

Substitute Mohamed Salah had a bright debut on Saturday, the paceman popping up in two goalscoring positions in three minutes, his best effort, fed deftly by Oscar, defied by Tim Krul.

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West Brom are seeking a third successive home league victory against Chelsea for the first time in over 80 years.

The previous two defeats at the Hawthorns were the last Premier League games in charge for Andre Villas-Boas and Roberto Di Matteo respectively. Prior to that the Blues had won the previous 13 meetings between the clubs, including a 100 per cent record in the Premier League.

On one visit in November 2008 Chelsea rewrote the history books. Luiz Felipe Scolari was the manager and he had extended the promising away league record he inherited into a formidable one.

The Brazilian's Blues faced Tony Mowbray's side intent on winning with the additional incentive of equalling Tottenham Hotspur's 48-year-old record of 10 consecutive victories on the road.

Bottom-of-the-table Baggies opened in their familiar passing style and dominated possession for the first half-hour without testing Carlo Cudicini, in for leg injury victim Petr Cech.

In fact Chelsea were the first to threaten, Florent Malouda setting up Frank Lampard for a drive that was pushed round by Scott Carson. Carson was tested again soon after by the marauding Malouda himself.

However there was no stopping a rare left-foot screamer from Jose Bosingwa 10 minutes before half-time. Carson reached the 30-yarder but could do nothing to stop it billowing the net.


Four minutes later Nicolas Anelka (now on the Hawthorns playing staff) put the visitors further ahead, latching on to Malouda's head-down inside the box and finishing neatly.

The match was ended as a contest in first half stoppage time when Anelka made it 3-0, squeezing a smart shot past the goalie from Salomon Kalou's pass.

Although a succession of Chelsea players had the opportunity to add to the scoreline there were no further goals. (The Blues would extend the club record to 11 successive league wins before drawing 0-0 at Everton just before Christmas.)

Our last 10 league meetings at the Hawthorns
1984/85 - Chelsea won 1-0old First Division
1985/86 - Chelsea won 3-0old First Division
1988/89 - Chelsea won 3-2old Second Division
2002/03 - Chelsea won 2-0Premier League
2004/05 - Chelsea won 4-1Premier League
2005/06 - Chelsea won 2-1Premier League
2008/09 - Chelsea won 3-0Premier League
2010/11 - Chelsea won 3-1Premier League
2011/12 - West Brom won 1-0Premier League
2012/13 - West Brom won 2-1Premier League



The reverse fixture this season
9 November 2013 Barclays Premier League
Chelsea………..……2 West Brom.………..….…2
Eto'o 45                        Long 60
Hazard 90+5 pen         Sessegnin 68
                 Att: 41,623

Chelsea v West Bromwich Albion in all competitions
Games played 130
Chelsea wins 54
Baggies wins 42
Draws 34

Head to head in the league at The Hawthorns
Games played 57
Chelsea wins 21
Baggies wins 23
Draws 13

Biggest league win at The Hawthorns for each team
West Brom 4-0 Chelsea - 01/05/1920, 12/12/1931, 04/09/1937,
13/12/1958, 14/04/1962, 27/04/1972.
West Brom 1-4 Chelsea - 30/10/2004

Chelsea achieved six successive away clean sheets: 2,267
West Brom's last home league defeat: 66
Arsenal won a trophy: 3,188
Liverpool won the league: 8,683


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Chelsea have the tightest defence in the Barclays Premier League conceding only 20 goals in 25 games including 11 clean sheets.

Since the November international break, the Blues have won 35 points from a possible 42. No team has won more in the same period.

Chelsea have gained 14 points from losing positions this season, still the best record in the Premier League.

The Blues have won 13 of the 15 league games we have opened the scoring.

Chelsea are nine points up compared to the corresponding 25 fixtures last season.

We have kept nine clean sheets and conceded just two goals in our last 11 league and cup matches.

We have won 21 points from a possible 36 away from Stamford Bridge this term.

Last six results
Jan 11 Hull (a) W 2-0
Jan 19 Manchester United (h) W 3-1
Jan 26 Stoke (FA Cup h) W 1-0
Jan 29 West Ham (h) D 0-0
Feb 3 Manchester City (a) W 1-0
Feb 8 Newcastle (h) W 3-0


Premier League scorers (47)
Hazard 12 (2 pens), Eto'o 6, Oscar 6, Lampard 4 (1 pen), Torres 4, Schurrle 3, Ivanovic 2, Terry 2, Willian 2, own goals 2, Ba 1, Cahill 1, Mikel 1, Ramires 1.

League games since
An away win: 0
An away draw: 3
An away defeat: 4


Chelsea's next three games
Sat 15 Feb Man City (FA Cup 5th round) away 5.15pm
Sat 22 Feb Everton home 12.45pm
Wed 26 Feb Galatasaray (Champions League) away 7.45pm


Frank Lampard's next converted penalty will be his 50th for the Blues.

Frank's next goal will be his 250th in his club career (Chelsea 209, West Ham 39, Swansea 1).

If selected, Fernando Torres will make his 100th Premier League appearance for Chelsea.


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

West Brom have won one of their last 16 matches in all competitions and 15 in the Premier League, winning 10 points from the last possible 45.

The Baggies have kept just one clean sheet in their last 15 Premier League matches.

Albion's 29 Premier League goals have been scored by 16 players, 17 if you include own goals.

West Brom have not won any of the 16 games their opponents scored the opening goal. They also haven't won any of the matches they have been losing at half time.

The Baggies have won 14 points from a possible 36 at the Hawthorns this term. Their three wins were against Sunderland, Crystal Palace and Newcastle, five draws with Arsenal, Aston Villa, Hull, Everton and Liverpool and four defeats to Southampton, Swansea, Manchester City and Norwich.

West Brom have lost 11 points from winning positions this season. Only Liverpool, Stoke, Southampton and West Ham have dropped more.

West Brom have drawn 11 of their 25 Premier League games this season, more than any other side

Manager Pepe Mel
Days in charge: 29
Played 4
Won 0
Drawn 2
Lost 2


Albion's Last 10 Year League History
Pts Pos Division Level
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
2012/13 49 8th Premier League 1

Since 2002 West Brom have moved seven times between the top two divisions.


Last six results
Jan 4 Crystal Palace (h) L 0-2
Jan 11 Southampton (a) L 0-1
Jan 20 Everton (h) D 1-1
Jan 29 Aston Villa (a) L 3-4
Feb 2 Liverpool (h) D 1-1
Feb 8 Crystal Palace (a) L 1-3


Premier League scorers (29)
Berahino 4 (1 pen), Long 3, Amalfitano 2, Anelka 2, Anichebe 2, Brunt 2, McAuley 2, Sessegnon 2, own goals 2, Lugano 1, Morrison 1 (pen), Mulumbu 1, Olsson 1, Ridgewell 1, Thievy 1, Vydra 1, Yacob 1.



League games since
A home win: 2
A home draw: 0
A home defeat: 4

Completed January transfers

Ins Bertrand Traore (Bobo-Dioulasso, undisclosed), Nemanja Matic (Benfica, undisclosed), Mohamed Salah (Basel, undisclosed), Kurt Zouma (Saint-Etienne, undisclosed)
Outs Juan Mata (Man Utd, undisclosed), Kevin De Bruyne (Wolfsburg, undisclosed), Sam Walker (Colchester, undisclosed), Ryan Bertrand (Aston Villa, loan), Bertrand Traore (Vitesse Arnhem, loan), Patrick Bamford (Derby, loan), Kenneth Omeruo (Middlesbrough, loan), Nathaniel Chalobah (Middlesbrough, loan), Josh McEachran (Wigan, loan), Michael Essien (AC Milan, free), Jon Muleba (Bournemouth, undisclosed), Matej Delac, FK Sarajevo, loan), Billy Clifford (Royal Antwerp, loan), Kurt Zouma (Saint-Etienne, loan), Lamisha Musonda (released), Gael Kakuta (Lazio, loan), George Saville (Brentford, loan extension), Milan Lalkovic (Walsall, loan extension)
Ins Thievy Bifouma (Espanyol, loan)
Outs Shane Long (Hull City, undisclosed), Lee Camp (Bournemouth, free), Kemar Roofe (Cheltenham Town, loan), George Thorne (Derby County, loan)

Anthony Taylor was the official for our last defeat, at Sunderland in the Capital One Cup in December. His only other Chelsea game this term was our 4-1 home Premier League victory over Cardiff City in October.

There are no suspensions.

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