Chelsea-West Brom Preview
LONDON (SE) - West Bromwich Albion will be looking to continue their terrific start to the season when they welcome possible title challengers Chelsea to The Hawthorns on Saturday afternoon.
The hosts go into the latest round of matches in fifth - their best ever placing in the Premier League at this stage of a season - and will be hopeful of repeating last season's 1-0 home win over the Blues to take them to within a point of the London club in the table.
Managing the visitors on Saturday will be former West Brom boss Roberto Di Matteo, and while the Baggies players remember the coach fondly, they will put their friendship to one side until after the 90 minutes.
"Robbie has done very well," said West Brom midfielder Youssouf Mulumbu. "He is still quite young but he drove the Chelsea team on. So all my praise goes to him, but I'm looking to beat him.
"I won't be looking to shake any hands or be kind to people, I will be looking to get three points and maybe go fourth in the league. He has a strong team but let's see what happens on Saturday. I'm quite confident."
Chelsea have suffered a dip in form following a strong start to the season and are without a win in three straight games. With the Club World Cup also looming on the horizon, there are fears that the Blues' squad will not be able to cope, but Di Matteo is hopeful that the demanding trip to Japan will not have too great an impact.
"It will certainly put a strain on the team, because it is a trip to the other side of the world with different time zones while the Premier League is still playing on," said the Italian. "We will have to deal with that. But we have got a big enough squad that I think we should be able to cope with it."
Di Matteo's team are unbeaten away from home in the league this season, and their record of just four conceded in five on the road is the best in the division. However, after keeping four clean sheets in their opening five game of the season, Chelsea have failed to keep one in any of their last six.
West Brom have picked up 15 points at home this season, with only Manchester City managing more, and their record of just four goals conceded in six matches at home is a record that only Stoke and Sunderland can match.
West Brom have doubts over James Morrison, Ben Foster and Steven Reid, while Chelsea are hopeful that Ashley Cole, Frank Lampard and David Luiz will be fit to return. John Terry is side-lined with the knee injury picked up against Liverpool last weekend.
The Baggies won this fixture 1-0 last season, with Gareth McAuley scoring a late winner. However, that win ended a run of 12 consecutive wins for Chelsea against Saturday's opponents.