West Bromwich Albion vs Chelsea: preview and predicted line-ups

With Chelsea in the midst of their first mini-blip of the season, they head to face in-form West Brom, as 3rd takes on 5th in the Premier League.

Romelu Lukaku will be ineligible to play against his parent club this weekend, there are still plenty of other links between the two sides, with both managers set to face former employers. Roberto Di Matteo returns to the club that sacked him in early 2011 after a poor set of results that was turned around by Roy Hodgson. Steve Clarke will manage his side against the club that he spent so many successful years at as a coach, and where he is still held in high regard by the fans.

West Brom also played a direct part in Di Matteo's position today, as it was at the Hawthorns that Andre Villas-Boas took charge of his last match for Chelsea. The 1-0 loss that day led to his dismissal, and Di Matteo's subsequent elevation. Now the Chelsea manager returns to the Hawthorns in charge of the European Champions, with a glittering array of talent to call on, and an unbeaten away record in the league this year.

However Chelsea's form has slipped recently, with 1-1 draws away at Swansea and home to Liverpool following the dramatic 3-2 loss to Manchester United. With both Manchester City and Manchester United continuing to win in the league, Chelsea need to start picking up three points again. Despite Fernando Torres' recent indifferent form, Chelsea still look to have plenty of threat going forward, it is at the back that they have looked poor. Terry's injury, coupled with a lack of protection from the ultra-attacking midfield, has led to them leaking goals and dropping points. They should be buoyed in this regard by the probable return of Ashley Cole and David Luiz to the line-up.

They will be coming up against a West Brom side that has won five of their previous six homes games in the league, with only Manchester City taking three points from the Hawthorns. Steve Clarke has been happy to rotate his starting line-up this season, so the absence of Lukaku shouldn't be too much of a problem. Youssouf Mulumbu should be fit to take up his place in West Brom's formidable central midfield alongside Claudio Yacob. James Morrison should also be fit to play despite withdrawing from international duty in midweek, and Steven Reid could feature at some stage. Ben Foster remains out, with Myhill set to deputise again.

West Brom are not in their elevated league position by any accident, and could be even higher with their recent losses to Newcastle and Manchester City coming in matches they easily could have won themselves. A solid away win at Wigan last weekend should stand in them in good stead for the visit of Chelsea, and this match has the potential to be a real cracker.

Possible starting line-ups:

WBA: 4-2-3-1: Myhill - Jones, McAuley, Olsson, Ridgewell - Yacob, Mulumbu - Odemwingie, Morrison, Brunt - Long

Chelsea: 4-2-3-1: Cech - Ivanovic, Luiz, Cahill, Cole - Mikel, Ramires - Mata, Oscar, Hazard - Torres

image: © hisgett

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