Roberto di Matteo faces a stern test on Saturday as he takes the Blues to his former club and the ground where his predecessor’s Chelsea career ended.
West Brom have arguably been the most overachieving side of the season so far and will be looking to capitalise on a Blues side far from full strength.
Not only is Di Matteo missing his captain, John Terry, and vice-captain, Frank Lampard, but the squad’s confidence will be at its lowest since he took over last February.
His side have not won in their last three Premier League – fail to win this one, and he will feel start to feel the pressure.
The press, quite understandably with Roman Abramovich’s track record, will begin to speculate about his future, and supporters could be facing yet another gloomy November.
It has been the month where, in the last two seasons, Di Matteo’s predecessors have begun to lose their way – and both were out of a job within not too much time.
Both Carlo Ancelotti and Andre Villas-Boas began to lose command of their jobs in Novembers, suffering three defeats each in the months of 2010 and 2011.
It’s sad, but quite realistic, to say that the next three games – West Brom, Juventus and Manchester City – could be season-defining.
Lose them all, and Chelsea could be nine points adrift of the top of the league and out of the Champions League. Win, and things will be looking very positive ahead of December.
While Chelsea go into the match without a win in three league matches, the Baggies, managed by Di Matteo’s former Chelsea teammate Steve Clarke, have won two in a row and if they win this will move to within a point of the Blues in the table.
Despite their boing-boing reputation they look likely to stay in the Premier League for a third season in a row, and will be hoping to surpass last season’s 10th-placed finish.
They’ll have to do without their joint-top goalscorer, Chelsea loanee Romelu Lukaku, but still have plenty of firepower up front.
Which is probably more than can be said for Chelsea. Oscar, Juan Mata and Eden Hazard are still doing fantastically well, but their hard work has, in recent weeks, been wasted on Fernando Torres, with John Obi Mikel looking more likely to find the back of the net.
As with Di Matteo, the next three games could be make or break for Torres. The faith of the fans is finally starting to dwindle and the club will bring in another striker in January unless he starts scoring some more goals.
But, like Di Matteo, he also has it all to win. If he shows up tomorrow, and in the next two matches, he, Di Matteo and Chelsea will be in a fantastic – and unfamiliar – November position.