Who: Chelsea FC vs. West Bromwich Albion FC
What: English Premier League Matchweek 28
Where: Stamford Bridge, London, England
When: Saturday, March 2, 2013
Weather: The Weather Channel forecast
Time: 15:00 GMT/10 a.m. ET/7 a.m. PT
Television: Fox Soccer Channel, FOX Deportes (USA)
Worldwide Live Streams and TV Channels: LiveSoccerTV.com
Referee: Kevin Friend
3-Way Odds: Chelsea -303, West Brom +650, Draw +333
Total: Over 2½ -175, Under 2½ +125
Decimal Odds: Chelsea 1.33, West Brom 7.50, Draw 4.33
Decimal Total: Over 2½ 1.57, Under 2½ 2.25
Fractional Odds: Chelsea 33/10, West Brom 13/2, Draw 333/100
Fractional Total: Over 2½ 67/100, Under 2½ 6/5
Odds English Premier League: Chelsea 200/1
(Manchester United 1/50, Manchester City 18/1)
Source: sportsbook.com (Curaçao, Netherlands Antilles)
Although it has dominated the series of late, Chelsea will be out looking for revenge on Saturday against a West Bromwich Albion side which upset the Blues, 2-1, on a second-half Peter Odemwingie goal at The Hawthorns back in November.
And now, precariously sitting in fourth place in the English Premier League just two points ahead of Arsenal and definitely in a dogfight for a prestigious UEFA Champions League spot next season, Chelsea (14-7-6) really needs to secure all three points in a home game like this one.
Along with third-place Tottenham-Hotspur (51 points) and the Gunners (47), the Blues (49) appear to be in a fight with Everton (42) and possibly this Baggies (40) team and eighth-place Liverpool (39) for the third- and fourth-place spots in the top flight.
West Brom (12-4-11) is presently in seventh place just nine points back of the Blues and can pull within six with an upset. But with the European champions now feeling the heat and mindful of that loss in the season's first meeting, doing so won't come easy—especially when considering the Baggies last league win at Stamford Bridge came all the way back in 1978 when Frank Lampard was only three months old.
Chelsea (55 goals for, 30 goal against in EPL) is 8-0-2 in its last 10 against the Baggies outscoring them 24-6 along the way and is 4-1-1 in its last six in all competitions with a healthy plus-eight goal differential (12-4) over that run.
For West Brom, team-leading scorer Romelu Lukaku (12 goals, EPL) will be unavailable as he is on loan from the Blues, while second-leading scorer Shane Long (6) is doubtful and defender Goran Popov will be serving the last of a three-match ban.
So, for the short-handed visitors, manager Steve Clarke will have to hope players like Odemwingie (5), Zoltan Gera (4) and James Morrison (3) will pick up some of the offensive slack while young Isaiah Brown and Romaine Sawyers may be brought in for this fixture.
Manager Clarke—who supported Chelsea interim manager Rafael Benítez in his recent lashing out at Blues management over his "interim" tag—and the Baggies are just 4-2-7 (17 goals for, 23 goals against) away from home, but have won two straight in the league beating Liverpool at Anfield and Sunderland at home last weekend.
One West Brom player who was injured and absent in the first meeting is starting goalkeeper Ben Foster—now pondering a return to the English national team—so between the chilly West London weather and the presence of Foster and Petr Čech, goals here may be few and far between.
The Blues come off a 2-0 win against Middlesbrough on Wednesday at The Riverside Stadium in the fifth round of the FA Cup, a victory which earned Chelsea a March 10 date at Old Trafford in the tournament's quarterfinals against league-leader Manchester United, so better get ready to hide the women and children, brother.
In that game against the Teesiders, Benítez did get to rest Juan Mata, Demba Ba, Frank Lampard, John Obi Mikel, Ashley Cole and Gary Cahill among others so the Blues will be ready to use their expensive depth in order in search of getting the win at The Bridge in this match, which promises to be entertaining considering Chelsea's recent subpar form in the Premiership.
With Čech in goal, captain John Terry back and getting healthier and an embarrassment of riches—both figuratively and literally—in the advanced midfield in Mata, Oscar, Eden Hazard, Victor Moses, Marko Marin and even Ramires when they want, the Blues roster is now probably as good as it has been all season.
Chelsea will hope to parlay all of that nervous energy from its current spot in the table along with its recent success on the pitch along with that oh so valuable energy from the home crowd and find a way to better the Baggies in what, in the end, could prove to be a very, very important game.
And with a win and an Arsenal victory over Spurs at White Hart Lane on Sunday, the Blues can jump back into third place by a point (52-51) and possibly sleep a little bit better for at least six days.
Possibly. All right. Probably not.
PREDICTION: Chelsea 2 West Brom 1
BETS: Chelsea -303, Over 2½ -161
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