Eden Hazard will return to the Chelsea squad for the meeting with West Brom on Saturday after the Belgian was excluded from the party that beat Schalke for missing a training session earlier in the week. Manager Jose Mourinho confirmed that Hazard lost his passport on a trip to France to visit former club Lille, for which he didn’t gain permission, and was then delayed getting back to London. However, Mourinho believes that player has made amends and is pleased to have him back.
“He reacted well, he apologized to me and to the club,” he said, according to Chelsea’s official website. “It's over now. He has the appetite to play because he loves to play football and I didn't allow him to play the last game. I am happy he is back.
“Every player knows me, and they know that for me the group is more important than the player, and the group principles are more important than even a football result. He is a good kid, he knows he made a mistake and now the case is over.”
The exclusion of Hazard was just one of several changes made to Chelsea’s lineup for the 3-0 win over Schalke from the one that lost meekly to Newcastle United. After fiercely criticizing that performance, Mourinho is happy with the reaction he got from his players.
“Every time we lost the ball we had 11 players fighting to recover it quickly, we were not sitting back and waiting for the ball, and when we recovered the ball we were always aggressive and fast,” he explained. “The team went in the same direction that they were going in before Newcastle, when we got good results and we were building the principles of our play.”
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Samuel Eto’o’s two goals against the Germans came at a good time, with Fernando Torres likely to be ruled out for another two weeks.
West Brom’s visit to Stamford Bridge will see a first meeting between Mourinho and his assistant during his first spell at Chelsea, Steve Clarke. Mourinho spoke highly of his former number two, but Clarke is purely focused on the job at hand.
"A win wouldn't mean anything to me other than the fact it's another three points for the Albion,” he said, according to West Brom’s official website. “It would be a good scalp to take, winning at Stamford Bridge and beating Chelsea, but that's it.
"I think if we're 100 per cent focused, and concentrated and play at our maximum, then we have an opportunity to compete with any team in the Premier League and that's what we have to focus on.”
West Brom have already shown this season that they have no fear in traveling to the homes of the Premier League’s elite with a victory at Manchester United in September. Three difficult fixtures followed from which West failed to pick up a victory, but they got back to winning ways at home to Crystal Palace last time out.
Former Chelsea duo Nicolas Anelka and Scott Sinclair are both fitness doubts, but Victor Anichebe will return from injury.
Prediction: Chelsea have won all seven of their Premier League matches with West Brom at Stamford Bridge and it is hard to see that perfect record ending on Saturday. Chelsea still have plenty of issues that Mourinho has to tackle, but should grind out a routine sixth consecutive home victory against a West Brom wide with just one win so far this season on their travels.
Chelsea 2-0 West Brom
Where to watch: The Premier League match will get underway at 10 a.m. ET. Coverage will be provided by the NBC Sports Network, with a live stream available on NBC Sports Live Extra.