Roberto Di Matteo returns to familiar territory this Saturday when he takes his Chelsea side to the Hawthorns, to face West Bromwich Albion, a club he used to manage, in a Premier League fixture that Chelsea need to win to achieve a first win in four Premier League games. In the opposition corner though will be Steve Clarke, a man Chelsea supporters know well and a man who has surprised many by taking West Brom into a high-flying position in the Premier League. The duo may be fends off the field but there`ll be an intense rivalry come 15:00 hours Saturday. But who will emerge victorious?
The fickle world of football management was never highlighted better when West Brom decided to dispense with the services of Roberto Di Matteo. Having taken the club from the Championship to the Premier League, he was shown the door without the club really being in dire trouble. The rest, as they say, is history with Roberto having achieved hero status in taking us to a wonderful FA Cup and Champions League double last season.
Talking about the exit of Roberto, from the Hawthorns, their Swedish defender, Jonas Olsson has remarked
“In Sweden we have a saying that everything happens for a reason.”
“It worked out well for West Brom and it worked out well for Robbie.”
“Winning the Champions League and the FA Cup was quite a turnaround for him. I thought he`d do well but I don`t expect anyone expected him to do quite so well.”
Like we said, it can be a fickle world.
West Brom Team News:
Steve Clarke welcomes his former club knowing he cannot select his on-loan striker Romelu Lukaku with Chelsea being his parent club. Also absent for the Baggies will be their top-notch keeper Ben Foster, who has a groin injury, whilst there are doubts over Gareth McAuley (didn`t he score the winner last season?) and Youssouf Mulumbu, both of who have hamstring injuries.
Player to watch: Shane Long
Not the biggest name in the Premier League but a player who has that knack of getting on the score-sheet!
Chelsea Team News:
Roberto Di Matteo takes his squad up to the Midlands without the influential John Terry who picked up a knee injury last time out against Liverpool. Also missing will be Frank Lampard who is still recovering from the calf injury he recently sustained. Ashley Cole will be hoping to have recovered from the hamstring injury he sustained against Swansea whist Di Matteo will need to assess the Brazilian contingent who did a trip across the Atlantic to play in a friendly in New Jersey.
However, we expect the starting eleven to be not too far removed from the following:-
Cech, Ivanovic, Luiz, Cahill, Cole (or Bertrand), Mikel, Ramires, Oscar, Hazard, Mata, Torres.
Player to watch: Petr Cech
With John Terry once again sidelined, Cech will once again wear the captain`s armband. The Czech keeper is back on top of his game again and in the last fixture, against Liverpool, pulled off a couple of fine saves to ensure we kept a share of the spoils.
Match Facts & Stats
This fixture went down in the history books last season as the one that got Andre Villas-Boas the sack. Has anyone wondered how things would have turned out if he hadn`t been off-loaded?
Our officials this weekend are:-
Referee: M Oliver
Assistants: S Child, D England
Fourth Official: S Attwell
Can Chelsea get back to winning ways at the Hawthorns after failing to get a win in their last three Premier League games? I sincerely hope so! But Steve Clarke will ensure we face a stiff test and will be keen to ensure that his own sides` meteoric rise up the table continues. But, I reckon we can and we will get all three points, in a tight affair, finishing 2-1 to us.
Next up for Chelsea is a titanic Champions League battle, on Tuesday evening, in Turin where a result against Juventus wouldn`t go amiss in our desire to reach the knockout stages of the competition.