CHELSEA v West Brom: Preview

 

Date: Monday 12th February 2018

Venue: Stamford Bridge

Kick-off: 20:00 GMT

 

 

With everyone above us apart from United winning at the weekend and pushing us out of the top four, tonight’s game at home to West Brom is one of those clichéd ‘must wins’. Of course, that wouldn’t be the case if we hadn’t spent the last couple of weeks playing like a Sunday League side (no offence to Sunday League) but since we seem to have become as allergic to second seasons as Jose Mourinho, it’s a cross we have to bear.

With Antonio Conte’s job seemingly filled on a daily basis now by the press, they’ll no doubt be hoping the curse of the Baggies fixtures returns to haunt us tonight and with just one win in our last 5 games, none of us can be remotely confident that their headlines will be put on hold. These fixtures have so far seen the end of Andres Villas-Boas and Roberto Di Matteo for us and whilst it was the reverse fixture last season that handed us the title, the same fixture this season saw the end of Tony Pulis.

Antonio Conte has insisted this week he has no intention of going anywhere but whether or not he does get to see out his contract sits squarely on the shoulders of our players and tonight will no doubt tell us whether they really do want the same thing.

 

MANAGER’S VIEWS

Going into tonight’s game, Chelsea boss Antonio Conte says “Every single player knows very well that we have to try to improve and to improve the results you must play better than we did against Watford. Against Watford we were totally negative but we showed a lot against Bournemouth. We conceded three shots and three goals against Bournemouth. Against Watford the performance was negative from the start and we didn’t create chances. We conceded three in eight minutes. The coach has to try to find the best solution to avoid this situation. I didn’t like that performance but I’m sure the players didn’t either.

I’ve got to look at myself as well. In every situation we have to divide the responsibility and that is in positive and negative situations. When you have these situations with so poor results, you have to divide it between me, the players and the club.”

West Brom Manager Alan Pardew meanwhile, says “Our focus is very much on Chelsea, because if we can get a result there it can make up for the defeat against Southampton. There could be a seven-point gap but that’s hypothetical at this stage. At the moment it’s four. All I do know is at some point this team needs to win three games out of three or three games out of four. We’re capable of doing that, if I didn’t think we were then I would worry.

We are obviously under pressure because we are bottom of the league. I think you are going to see a lot of fight on the pitch in terms of two teams desperate to get points and turn a little bit of a corner for Chelsea and us to get a result that might be the boost we need.

I know Chelsea very well. I have watched from afar. They have difficult periods but they do come through them and I have great respect for the manager and I think he will come through it – no problem.”

 

SQUAD NEWS

For Chelsea, Alvaro Morata (back) and Ross Barkley (hamstring) remain out, whilst Andreas Christensen (hamstring) and Marcos Alonso face late fitness tests. Bakayoko is suspended after two yellows against Watford last week. Pedro (ankle) is available and Olivier Giroud could start.

For West Brom, Jake Livermore (hamstring), James Morrison (Achilles) and Nacer Chadli (hip) are out although Jonny Evans (back), Kieran Gibbs (hamstring), Grzegorz Krychowiak (leg) are available. Jay Rodriguez should start despite his recent FA charge for alleged racial abuse.

 

TEAMS

CHELSEA (Possible line-up): Courtois, Azpilicueta, Luiz, Rudiger, Moses, Kante, Fabregas, Alonso, Willian, Giroud, Hazard

WEST BROM (Possible line-up): Foster, Dawson, McAuley, Hegazi, Phillips, Krychowiak, Barry, Brunt, Gibbs, Sturridge, Rodriguez

 

LAST SEASON

Chelsea 1-0 West Brom (11 December 2016)

 

RECENT FORM (PL)

CHELSEA: WDDWLL

WEST BROM: DLWDLL

 

OTHER STUFF

~ Chelsea have won all three meetings with West Brom under Conte

~ Conte is yet to see his Chelsea side concede a goal against West Brom

~ West Brom haven’t won in their last 16 visits to Stamford Bridge in all competitions

~ West Brom have lost more points from leading positions than anyone else in the Premier League this season

~ Chelsea have lost consecutive league games by a margin of 3 or more goals for the first time since 1995

 

PREDICTION

BBC Sport: Chelsea 2-0 West Brom

Sky Sports: Chelsea 3-0 West Brom

Sportsmole: Chelsea 2-0 West Brom

 

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