WBA-MAD preview: Chelsea vs Albion


Andre Villas-Boas... Roberto Di Matteo.... and what with his outburst midweek, could Rafa Benitez become the third Chelsea manager to lose his job after suffering defeat to West Brom? 


Despite comfortably beating Middlesbrough in the FA cup fifth round on Wednesday, Benitez snapped in the post match interviews and composed one of his famous rants, questioning his title and the pleading with the fans to support the team. 


The Spaniard confirmed his expected exit at the end of the season, which leaves plenty of time for rumour: who will be the next permanent Chelsea manager? 


One head you shouldn't expect to see in the bookies running is Albion boss Steve Clarke. A man of Stamford Bridge for some 20 years as a player and coach, the Scot has this week rubbished chances of him returning to west London after an impressive debut season with the Baggies.  


Instead he will be looking to orchestrate an unlikely double over his former employers this weekend, following the 2-1 victory over the Blues at the Hawthorns in November. They will have to do it without Romelu Lukaku, though. 


The Belgian teenager is on loan at Albion from Chelsea, but is ineligible to face his parent club. The pricey striker has made a massive impact in the West Midlands this season, netting 12 goals from only 12 starts, including a brace which saw off Sunderland last week. 


Questions remain as to whether he will be allowed to return to the Baggies for a second spell next season, especially with Chelsea's current number one forward Fernando Torres struggling to capture the form which elevated him to being known as one of the most notorious strikers in the world. 


Albion are sure to be heading the queue for Lukaku should he be made available next year, especially with the man himself stating he would be interested in returning to B71. Two wins for the Baggies in a row now, and they look like they might just be finding their early season touch once more. Regardless of this, they will have to be at their very best to beat the European champions in their own back yard.


Team News 


Gary Cahill and Cesar Azpilicueta are expected to return to the squad after missing out in the win at the Riverside during the week. The pair were rested, and it is likely Rafa Benitez could recall them alongside the likes of Ashley Cole, Frank Lampard and Eden Hazard.


Albion will hope Shane Long is fit with Romelu Lukaku unavailable. Long has been suffering with an ankle complaint, and it remains to be seen whether he'll be able to participate. Zoltan Gera and George Thorne are out, while Goran Popov serves the last of his three match ban. Isaiah Brown has been included in the squad and could become the youngest ever Premier League player should he appear.


Match Stats



  • Of the 13 meetings in the Premier League between these two teams, Chelsea have won 11 and Albion 2, but those two victories have come in the last couple of fixtures.
  • Names relating to both: Steve Clarke, Romelu Lukaku
  • Shane Long has scored in each of the last two matches he has started against Chelsea.
  • Frank Lampard is one goal away from 200 for Chelsea, and a hat-trick would see him overtake Bobby Tambling is the Blues' all-time top scorer.
  • Albion overcame Chelsea at the Hawthorns 1-0 last season, with Gareth McAuley scoring the winner- on March 3rd 2012. 364 days later, the two sides meet again.


(Source: Yahoo! - Eurosport)