Chelsea fans are ready to produce a thunderous reception at Stamford Bridge as the Blues prepare to play their first home game since Jose Mourinho's remarks about the lack of lack atmosphere.
The Premier League pacesetters welcome West Brom to this Saturday for the first time since the 2-1 victory over Queens Park Rangers earlier this month. Mourinho had questioned the fans at the 41,837-seater ground, saying it felt like his side were "playing in an empty stadium''.
Since then, Chelsea have played two away games, drawing at Maribor in the Champions League and beating Liverpool in the Premier League. Mourinho's comments came as a surprise to many supporters, but it is understood that they are planning a positive reaction during the Premier League clash.
Chelsea Supporters' Trust chairman Tim Rolls told PA Sport: "He's very, very popular with the fans; I would expect people would respond to it.
"I would anticipate at the start of the game he'll get a big cheer, they'll chant his name and there will be lots of chanting. I would expect a good atmosphere on Saturday.''
Mourinho, whether intentional or not, started off a long debate over the reasons for atmospheres dying around Premier League grounds. It is not only Chelsea that have seen their fans grow quieter; Manchester United have recently introduced a dedicated singing section to Old Trafford while Arsenal fans also have an unofficially singing section at the Emirates Stadium.
"The design of modern grounds, plus the changed demographic and the fact people have to sit, means it is less vibrant than it used to be.''
Rising ticket prices have been cited as the main cause for the lack of atmosphere, as has the absence of standing sections and the increasing amount of tourists attending matches.
"If it's a very sterile game the atmosphere does tend to die off these days,'' Rolls added.
"That's a by-product of the changing demographic of football.
"There's less young people, people are seated. It's less conducive to an exciting atmosphere. It's the same at all the top clubs. Old Trafford and Anfield in the '70s were pretty hostile places.
"It's a lot less now, certainly at Liverpool. Chelsea were on top for large periods of the game and Liverpool weren't getting the support from the Kop that they'd have got a generation ago.
Designed for silence
"Maine Road was a pretty vibrant place. The old days at Highbury, at White Hart Lane. It's just different now. Clubs that have come up, [with] smaller, more tightly packed grounds like Burnley, there's probably more atmosphere.
"The design of modern grounds, plus the changed demographic and the fact people have to sit, means it is less vibrant than it used to be.''News Now - Sport News