Skip to main content

The FourFourTwo Preview: Chelsea vs West Brom

Eden Hazard's controversial last-gasp penalty - won by Ramires - ensured Jose Mourinho's side salvaged a 2-2 Premier League draw against Albion at Stamford Bridge just over a year ago.

Referee Andre Marriner pointed to the spot in stoppage time after the Brazilian midfielder had gone down following a collision with Steven Reid, a decision which then Albion head coach Steve Clarke described as "galling".

The West Midlands club also secured a 1-1 home draw with Chelsea in the 2013-14 campaign, but Mourinho's side are a different proposition this season as they have surged into a four-point lead at the top of the table.

Chelsea have dropped only for points in an ominous start to Mourinho's second season back at the helm and with closest challengers Southampton not in action until Monday, they will be seven points clear with a victory on Saturday.

Mourinho will be hoping his dig at Chelsea fans following the London derby victory over QPR will prompt them to raise the decibels when Alan Irvine's men head to the capital.

The Portuguese said it was like playing in an "empty stadium" due to the lack of atmosphere from the home fans against Harry Redknapp's side.

Chelsea have won all five home matches in the Premier League this season, conceding just three goals in the process and, with champions Manchester City faltering, they are strong favourites to win the title even at such an early stage.

Striker Diego Costa should be firing on all cylinders having been omitted from international duty with Spain after being troubled by a hamstring problem since arriving at Stamford Bridge.

Cesc Fabregas also pulled out of the Spain squad due to a hamstring injury, so Mourinho will check on the midfielder's fitness ahead of the clash with Albion and the same applies to Ramires (groin).

Andre Schurrle stayed in London during the international break in order to recover from an infection and it remains to be seen if the Germany forward plays any part. 

West Brom slumped to a first defeat in four Premier League games when they were beaten 2-0 by resurgent Newcastle United at The Hawthorns last time out and have had two weeks to lick their wounds.

Irvine is under no illusions as to the task his side face on Saturday, but stressed that his side will not just be there to make up the numbers.

He said: "I would probably argue that Chelsea have strengthened a very good squad from last year by adding some exceptionally good players. 

"They are stronger but it doesn't mean we can't get something from there. We have a chance - there is absolutely no question of that - but we will need to play extremely well."

The visitors welcome Craig Gardner back from suspension, but Jonas Olsson (Achilles) is ruled out and Sebastian Pocognoli (hamstring) faces a battle to prove his fitness.