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Premier League preview: West Brom v Chelsea

West Bromwich Albion deservedly occupy the lofty position of fifth in the English Premier League ahead of Chelsea’s visit on Sunday.

Steve Clarke’s men have lost only to champions Manchester City at home this season with their new manager enjoying an almost blemish-free start to life in the top flight.

A win at The Hawthorns on Saturday would claw West Brom within a point of Chelsea.

West Brom picked up their first away win of the campaign at Wigan on Saturday with James Morrison and a Gary Caldwell own goal earning them a 2-1 victory.

Key to their success at home though has been their defensive record.

In wins over Everton, Liverpool, Reading and Southampton, West Brom have kept clean sheets and a back four consisting of Liam Ridgewell, Gareth McAuley, Billy Jones and Jonas Olsson will be a tough nut to crack at home, even for the reigning European champions.

Roberto Di Matteo’s Chelsea, meanwhile, will be without captain John Terry for an indefinite period.

The skipper’s comeback from his four-game ban for racially abusing Anton Ferdinand was bookended with the opening goal against Liverpool, his 50th for the London club, and an unsavoury fall under a challenge that led to a nasty knee injury.

Di Matteo insisted Chelsea had the defensive cover to overcome the loss of Terry with David Luiz and left-back Ashley Cole, who both missed the Liverpool clash, set to return to face West Brom, while Frank Lampard is likely to watch on from the sidelines.

Chelsea have slipped to third in the table, three points behind leaders Manchester United and one behind champions Manchester City, after making a flying start to the season.

The four-time Premier League champions are winless in three games, a run that includes their controversial 3-2 defeat at home to title rivals United.

An 82nd-minute goal from defender McAuley handed West Brom a shock 1-0 victory in March this year, a run stretching back to 15 top-flight games.

The triumph was also West Brom’s first clean sheet against Chelsea in top-flight football since 1979.

Thu 15 November, 2012
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