Who: West Bromwich Albion FC vs. Chelsea FC
What: English Premier League Week 26
Where: The Hawthorns, West Bromwich, West Midlands, England, United Kingdom
When: Tuesday, February 11, 2014
Weather: The Weather Channel forecast West Bromwich
Time: 20:00 GMT/3 p.m. ET/12 p.m. PT
TV: NBC Sports Network, NBC Sports Live Extra (US); BBC One (UK)
Worldwide Livestreams and TV Channels: LiveSoccerTV.com
Radio: SiriusXM FC, TalkSport Radio, BBC Radio 5 Live
Referee: Anthony Taylor
3-Way Odds: West Brom +550, Chelsea -210, Draw +350
Total: Over 2½ -115, Under 2½ -105
Decimal Odds: West Brom 6.50, Chelsea 1.48, Draw 4.50
Decimal Total: Over 2½ 1.87, Under 2½ 1.95
Fractional Odds: West Brom 11-2, Chelsea 10-21, Draw 7-2
Fractional Total: Over 2½ 20-23, Under 2½ 20-21
Alternate Odds: West Brom +1 Even, Chelsea -1 -120
Over 3½ +210, Under 3½ -260
First Half: West Brom +½ -125, Chelsea -½ +105, Draw +130
Over 1 -120, Under 1 -110
3-Way Odds: West Brom +600, Chelsea -210, Draw +330
Goal Line: West Brom +1 Even, Chelsea -1 -120
Total: Over 2½ -115, Under 2½ -05
Chelsea will look to keep up its winning ways when it travels to the West Midlands on Tuesday to face a West Bromwich Albion side that suddenly finds itself in the relegation zone and in dire need of a win after losing to Crystal Palace at Selhurst Park on Saturday.
Although struggling of late and winners in just one of their last 15 English Premier League games, the Baggies have beaten the Blues two straight times at The Hawthorns and have lost just once in the last four meetings between the clubs after previously being unable to crack the code that is Chelsea.
But now with fear of relegation as a motivating factor, 18th-place West Brom (4-11-10, 23 points) and its fans will be ready for the high-flying and now league-leading Blues, looking to earn new manager Pepe Mel his first win.
The big problem? Well, let’s just say we have a huge talent discrepancy here between the two clubs, and the Baggies selling Shane Long over the January transfer window certainly doesn’t help matters.
West Brom has actually had three pretty decent seasons in the league, but the sacking of Steve Clarke, the sale of Long and this long streak with just one win to speak of should send fear down the spine of the Throstles faithful.
The good news from West Brom and its backers is there are about 10 other equally average clubs which will also be worried about relegation, with just seven points separating 10th place (27) from 20th place (20).
One guy Chelsea won’t have to worry about seeing will be former Blues striker Nicolas Anelka (knee). Jonas Olsson and Stephane Sessegnon are both also out with injuries, while defender Billy Jones will have a late fitness test before the match and may also miss out for the Baggies.
With the fewest wins in the EPL—just four—West Brom, which has had 16 different scorers this season, will really have to play a near-perfect game and get all of the bounces and luck against a team that has allowed just one goal this calendar year and has yet to lose.
Maybe Espanyol loanee Thievy Bifouma can provide a spark for the Baggies. He may get the start after scoring West Brom’s lone goal against the Eagles over the weekend.
But West Brom haven’t exactly been tearing it up at home (3-5-4), and you know Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho will come up with some kind of funky psychological angle (possibly revenge?) to try to motivate his side in this quick turnaround game.
When the two sides met at Stamford Bridge in November, the Baggies may have been a bit of a victim of “home bias” as an extremely controversial stoppage-time penalty kick was awarded. Eden Hazard converted to give the Blues a lucky 2-2 draw and somehow keep intact their unbeaten mark in West London under the Special One in league play.
Chelsea (17-5-3) seemed to shore up a gaping need of the club for quite some time with the signing of defensive midfielder Nemanja Matic. Expect to see the 6’4” Matic now getting almost all of the starts in games of real importance for the duration of the season.
And having Matic and fellow Serb Branislav Ivanovic (6’2”) on the pitch at the same time can only result in opponents getting the feeling that they are being roughed up by a couple of ornery bouncers in some European bar for about 90 torturous minutes or so.
The Europa League champions have won half of their road games (6-3-3) to date, outscoring opponents 19-11 in the process, but this Chelsea squad is now much better, much hungrier and actually has higher expectations with this roster and winning and scoreless streaks at the moment. This is one team you don’t want to play right now—just ask Manchester City and Yaya Toure about that.
Injury-wise, the Blues will probably again be without captain John Terry, who is near a return, but striker Fernando Torres should be back and after watching all this success from the sideline—expect the Spanish striker to be a bit eager to contribute to the fun.
And with Hazard—who registered his first hat-trick in a 3-0 win over Newcastle United on Saturday—now clicking and realizing he can score and pass (a la Lionel Messi) to help his team, the offense is again as dangerous as it was when Didier Drogba roamed the sacred soil at the Bridge.
But as good as the offense may be or is getting—Chelsea has scored an EPL-high 11 goals from outside the box in open play according to Squawka—the defense is still twice as good and probably twice as important to this team’s future success.
Chelsea has allowed the least number of goals in the Premier League (20) and Blues goalkeeper extraordinaire Petr Cech in smack dab in the middle of a run where he has allowed just one goal—Manchester United’s Javier Hernandez—since Dec. 17. And that’s really saying something with Valentine’s Day coming Friday.
Trend-wise, Chelsea is 7-2-1 in the last 10 meetings with West Brom with seven of those 10 games going over the posted total during a 22-8 edge in goals. The Blues are 7-2-1 in their last 10 coming off of a win, while the Baggies are 1-6-3 in their last 10 following a loss. In short, almost everything you could possible use in this handicap points toward taking the visitors and laying the fair -210 price.
With everything going right, a Torres brace and a Hazard brace seems possible, with West Brom goalkeeper Ben Foster probably deserving a little hazard pay—no pun intended—when all is said and done.
Next up on Chelsea’s schedule is another showdown with Manchester City on Feb. 15 at the Etihad Stadium in the fifth round (round of 16) of the FA Cup (Fox Sports 2, 12 p.m. ET/9 a.m PT).
The Blues then return home to SW6 to play host to Everton in EPL action on Feb. 22 before starting their Champions League round of 16 series with Galatasaray and former club legend Drogba in Istanbul on Feb. 26.
PREDICTION: West Bromwich 0 Chelsea 4
BETS: Chelsea -210, Chelsea -1 -120, Over 2½ -115
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