Chelsea Up Next
We host Chelsea on Saturday, so I popped over to Vital Chelsea for a few words.
1) Is the season going as you expected and what has been the highlight and lowlight so far?
Finishing on such a high, winning the Champions League, then watching the team being dismantled and several expensive, younger stars coming in, this season was always going to be something of a mystery. But I`ve been pleasantly surprised, the team has gelled quicker than expected and the results have been good. Now whether we can sustain this form over the course of the season remains to be seen, but we can but hope.
As for a season high (so far) that has to be the win at Spurs, going 2-1 behind and coming back to win at Three Point Lane was a great feeling. As for a low, I`ll go for the defeat to Manchester United, at home.
2) Are you pleased with the transfer dealings of the club?
Very! The acquisitions of Hazard, Oscar and Moses have proven to be inspired. The former two have slotted in nicely alongside Juan Mata and produced some sparkling football. Victor Moses has waited for his opportunity but he too has shown he is capable of slotting into what is going to be a very good side. Cesar Azpilicueta also arrived, but he`s more of a work in progress and one for the future. Marko Marin, on the other hand, has yet to pull on a blue shirt in anger and remains, still, something of a mystery. Now all we need is a world class centre forward and watch us go!
3) Where do you see your current weaknesses this season? Any clues for the game will be greatly appreciated :-)
If we were to get an injury to Petr Cech we`d be in big trouble.
We`ve been screaming it from the roof-tops that our back-ups, Ross Turnbull and Henrique Hilario, are not good enough but nobody listened. Also, we`ve only got two forwards, in Torres and Sturridge, there`s not much scope for change there if injuries / suspensions were to kick in.
4) Who will be your key dangerman?
Oscar - He looks as if he should still be doing a paper-round and his physique suggests he can easily be knocked off the ball, but don`t believe it. This Brazilian is the real deal, he glides across the pitch, puts in a defensive shift when needed and has dynamite in his boots. Give him space and he will punish you!
5) Who is your star signing of the summer?
Eden Hazard - The Belgian international started like a house-on-fire, with his sublime skills setting up chance after chance and registering assist after assist. Some might say he`s gone slightly off the boil in recent weeks but whenever he gets the ball there`s a buzz in the air. His low centre -of gravity makes him hard to shake off the ball and his pace, allied with his skills, set him apart from so many others - You`ve been warned!
6) Where do you see Albion finishing this season?
There`s no doubting that Steve Clarke has done a magnificent job in the time he`s been there. You are flying high and are one of the surprises of the Premier League. But can you keep up the good form? Is your squad deep enough to sustain this start once injuries and suspensions start to bite? I`m not sure! But, I see no reason why you can`t finish in a comfortable mid-table position which, I reckon, would represent a remarkable achievement for a club that has tended to yo-yo between the Premier League and the Championship in the past.
7) What do you think of the appointment of Steve Clarke to what is his first management job?
As you`re probably aware, Steve Clarke and Chelsea have history, we love Steve and in his spells with us as both a player and a coach he`s always been held in high regard. He`s also an astute character and he`ll have picked up a lot from working alongside Jose Mourinho (Chelsea), Gianfranco Zola (West Ham) and Kenny Dalglish (Liverpool) as well as with Ruud Gullit in his brief spell at Newcastle. I always held this suspicion that Steve would want to be a number one, as opposed to a number two and I think he`s been very selective in choosing West Brom. I reckon Steve knows he can do a job there, take you to a higher level and also establish a reputation as a manager with promise. Now……..whether you`ll be able to hang onto him remains to be seen. But surprised he took on the role, that`ll be a no!
8) If you could take one of our players, who would it be and why?
Romelu Lukaku - Hold on isn`t he one of ours anyway? With only two recognized strikers on our books (Torres and Sturridge), we`re a little lightweight up front. We`ve also nobody who can add a bit of a physical threat and raw power when the occasion arises. Therefore, I`d like to take back what is rightfully ours.
No you can't!
9) Who do you see as our main threat?
Our defence has been a little slip-shod in recent times, especially whilst John Terry was out suspended. With John now injured, I`m fearful that we can be got at when David Luiz drifts out of position, therefore, I`ll go for Peter Odemwingie. His pace and trickery could cause us problems if we allow him to.
10) What weaknesses in our team do you think you'll be looking to exploit?
It`ll be interesting to see how you cope with our lone striker operating in front of a high midfield three. Will you`re defence hold the line or will they be tempted to come out and try to contain the likes of Mata, Hazard and Oscar. In my opinion it`ll be what decides the outcome of this fixture.
11) Finally, a prediction please fellow football fan...
We`re arriving at the Hawthorns having not won in three Premier League games and having only taken two points out of a possible nine. We desperately need a win to stop the two Manchester clubs opening up a gap at the top. Saturday afternoon may not be pretty but we`re arriving to do a job and I reckon we`ll scrape a 2-1 win.
With thanks to Merlin!
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