Chelsea 1 West Brom 0
Chelsea took the honours at Stamford Bridge with a narrow win but once again it was a far from convincing display with too many chances missed and a requirement to hang on in there at the end.
Team News - After the midweek FA Cup trip to Middlesbrough, Rafa Benitez once again shuffled his pack with Ba, Lampard, Oscar, Cole and Luiz returning.
First Half - With the game getting underway to a background of several anti-Rafa banners, Chelsea were to enjoy by far the better of the half. In fact Chelsea could have gone ahead very early on when Demba Ba broke away down the right flank and put in a great cross that Oscar managed to mishit and allow Ben Foster, in the West Brom goal, to save.
Steve Clarke`s side were then deprived of the opening goal of the game when, having won a free kick some thirty-five yards out, Petr Cech was forced to tip over a fine strike from Steven Reid. As the play settled down, Chelsea appeared to be in control and, deservedly, took the lead with 28 minutes gone.
Chelsea had won a corner, it was taken short and when Oscar delivered a cross David Luiz headed smartly back across goal for Ba to smash the ball home.
The half ended with two further efforts from Cesar Azpilicueta and Oscar being blocked by Jonas Olsson and Liam Ridgwell respectively.
Second Half - The second half saw West Brom come more into things. Chelsea started well and thought they`d doubled their lead when Frank Lampard converted Mata`s pass but instead of celebrating his 200th Chelsea goal he was left to rue the raised offside flag.
Foster then denied Ba, saving from four yards out after the striker had gotten on the end of another Oscar cross but Steve Clarke made a good substitution, bringing on Peter Odemwingie and suddenly Chelsea were on the back foot.
Benitez withdrew Hazard, bring on Victor Moses when most thought Mata would be the one to be taken off and Torres replaced the goal-scorer Ba. But Odemwingie continued to be a threat and it took a great save from Cech before the Czech keeper pridced a stunning block to prevent an Azpilicueta header from flying into his own goal.
Chelsea - Cech, Azpilicueta, Ivanovic, Luiz, Cole, Ramires, Lampard, Hazard (Moses-80), Mata (Mikel-90), Oscar, Ba (Torres-87)
Unused Subs - Turnbull, Terry, Cahill, Bertrand, .
Chelsea Scorers - Ba (28)
Chelsea Yellow Cards - Hazard
Chelsea Red Cards - Nil