Preview: West Brom vs Chelsea
West Brom vs Chelsea preview
Reigning champions Chelsea will be desperate for a win when they visit the Hawthorns for a meeting with West Bromwich Albion on Sunday.
Jose Mourinho’s charges start the weekend in 17th place after collecting only one point from two games. They were comprehensively defeated by Manchester City last Sunday in a game that raised questions over key players like Cesc Fabregas and Branislav Ivanovic.
John Terry grabbed the headlines after the game because he was substituted for the first time in 177 Premier League games. Mourinho chalked it up to tactical reasons but there is a strong indication that Terry may need to regain Mourinho’s confidence after he made a technical mistake in Sergio Aguero’s goal. The Blues skipper also struggled to contain Bafetimbi Gomis’ threat in behind during Chelsea’s season opener against Swansea.
The recent signing of Pedro Rodriguez from Barcelona improved the mood in Chelsea’s camp but they cannot afford to drop points at West Brom. The champions will also realise that their situation can completely change with a good win in this clash because their main title rivals, Manchester City, have a tricky away fixture to Everton.
West Brom will not simply yield to Chelsea’s desire for three points because they too need their first win of the season. Tony Pulis’ team is yet to score so they will need drastic improvements going forward to get something from this home game.
The Baggies can draw confidence from their last meeting with Chelsea when they claimed a shock 3-0 victory over the Blues. Trivia-loving West Brom fans can also look at how Mourinho has only lost to managers whose surnames start with a letter P in domestic league and cup games since the beginning of last season [Alan Pardew’s Newcastle, Mauricio Pochettino’s Tottenham, Phil Parkinson’s Bradford City, Pulis’ West Brom and Manuel Pellegrini’s Manchester City last time out].
West Bromwich Albion team news
- Salomon Rondon made his debut from the bench last time out and will be pushing for a start on Sunday, though fellow new arrival Serge Gnabry is still short of match fitness.
- Ben Foster (ACL knee) remains the only player in the treatment room for the Baggies.
Chelsea team news
- Thibaut Courtois is available following a suspension and is likely to replace Asmir Begovic in goal.
- Victor Moses and Oscar have minor injuries but should be available for the trip to the Hawthorns.
West Bromwich Albion vs Chelsea prediction
Pulis is unlikely to repeat the mistake he made in the season opener when he started with two strikers in the 3-0 defeat to Manchester City. The Baggies boss could go with a solid 4-5-1 formation with Rondon as the lone centre forward making runs in behind Chelsea’s defence.
Saido Berahino and Callum McManaman can spin in behind Chelsea’s full-backs to support the main striker from wide midfield positions during counter-attacks, while Darren Fletcher, James Morrison and Claudio Yacob complete the five in midfield.
Baba Rahman’s arrival at Chelsea could cost out-of-form Ivanovic his place in the starting XI. Rahman may slot in at left-back with Cesar Azpilicueta switching to right-back. Terry may still keep his place alongside Gary Cahill as the central defenders.
Mourinho could decide to give Pedro more time to integrate into the group so the Blues should have a familiar attacking midfield trio of Oscar, Eden Hazard and Willian. Diego Costa should lead the attack in a 4-2-3-1 formation.
Chelsea will have more possession with Cesc Fabregas dictating the tempo in midfield, but they will need sharp movement and crisp passing in the offensive-third to open up the Baggies. The Blues will also have to be defend much better against threats in behind their back-four.
West Bromwich Albion 1-2 Chelsea