Andre Villas-Boas insists Chelsea must win their back-to-back home games with West Brom and Norwich if they are to be considered serious Barclays Premier League title contenders this season.
The Blues were held to a goalless draw in Sunday's opening-weekend clash at Stoke, while Manchester United and Manchester City both won to open up the earliest of two-point leads on their other main championship rival.
And although there are still 37 games to go, new Chelsea boss Villas-Boas acknowledged his side could not afford to fall further behind the two Manchester clubs before the end of the month.
The Portuguese, who has made regaining the league title the top priority of his first season in charge, said: "We have two games at home that we must do everything in our power to get three points out of, because it's seven points (in total) and can get us into a good position.
"It's two games at home and you have to win them."
Chelsea were unfortunate not to take maximum points at the Britannia Stadium on Sunday but the game also demonstrated why Villas-Boas is so keen to add more creativity to his midfield.
He hinted yesterday the club would not be held to ransom over Tottenham's Luka Modric, who remains the Blues' number one transfer target.
Spain winger Juan Mata is another possible signing, amid reports the Blues have offered Valencia £27million for his services, bids for Porto pair Alvaro Pereira and Joao Moutinho have also been mooted, while Genk's Kevin de Bruyne this week revealed talks had taken place between his representative and Chelsea.
But Villas-Boas will have to make do against West Brom tomorrow in what will be his first home game as Blues boss.
All the club's pre-season matches were away from Stamford Bridge and Villas-Boas admitted it felt good to be back at the stadium where he spent three years helping Jose Mourinho mastermind the most successful period in Chelsea's history.
The Portuguese once again faces plenty of selection dilemmas, most notably whether to start Hilario or Ross Turnbull in goal following Petr Cech's injury.
Fernando Torres surely did enough against Stoke to keep his place, although Didier Drogba and Nicolas Anelka both boast impressive records against West Brom.
"I have to judge everything and be sensitive to that of course," said Villas-Boas, who yesterday added Romelu Lukaku to his phalanx of forwards.
"It's just good to have this availability."
As well as being another landmark fixture in the fledgling career of Villas-Boas, tomorrow's game will also be a poignant one for assistant boss Roberto Di Matteo, who was sacked by West Brom in February.
The corresponding fixture last season was Di Matteo's first match as a Premier League manager and it proved to be a chastening experience as Chelsea romped to a 6-0 win.
Villas-Boas revealed there had been "some banter" at the Italian's expense in the build-up to tomorrow's game.
"It will be emotional for him for sure to see people that he was very, very attached to," Villas-Boas added of the former Chelsea midfielder.
"It happens the same to every manager when you face an old team.
"There are some strong relationships in there and I think for sure he'll salute all of those people."
West Brom's decision to sack Di Matteo was felt harsh but it was vindicated when successor Roy Hodgson transformed their fortunes in the final three months of the season.
They also went close to holding United to a draw on Sunday and Villas-Boas said: "It's a home game, it's a game where we expect to have the initiative.
"But we are happy enough that West Brom favours a football initiative and a football philosophy.
"They showed that last week against Man United.
"I think Roy's principles and values of football are surely taken into account.
"It's one of the reasons why he took Fulham to the Europa League final and that's why his Liverpool team - although it couldn't find the results - played fantastic football."Reuse content