Chelsea host Alan Pardew’s West Bromwich Albion at Stamford Bridge in matchday twenty-seven of the English Premier League.
In their last meeting this season, Chelsea ran out 4-0 winners at the Hawthorns, with goals coming from Alvaro Morata, Eden Hazard and Marcos Alonso. Back then the Baggies were in 16th place and Chelsea, in fourth.
Now however, the Blues find themselves in fifth place, with 5 points separating them from 6th placed Arsenal. Nothing less than a victory will do if they want to keep pace with Liverpool and leapfrog arch rivals Tottenham Hotspur for a spot in the top 4.
West Bromwich Albion on the other hand, are still looking for their first Premier League victory since August. With 20 points to their name, most of which has been earned through hard fought draws, they are at the bottom of the table,with 20 points to their name, 4 behind the 19th placed Huddersfield.
Team News & Tactics
Antonio Conte will be without the services of Tiemoue Bakayoko, who is serving his one match suspension. Besides that, he will be without the services of Alvaro Morata, while Andreas Christensen’s participation remains doubtful as well.
Thibaut Courtois will start in goal, with Gary Cahill, Antonio Ruidger and Cesar Azpilicueta likely making up the back three. Marcos Alonso will likely start once again on the left. Emerson Palmieri may make his debut if deemed fit, but a place in the starting eleven is unlikely.
N’golo Kante and Cesc Fabregas will likely start in the middle of the park, with Victor Moses coming into the starting eleven ahead of Davide Zappacosta. Eden Hazard and Willian will likely start on the left and right of a front three, with Olivier Giroud leading the line for the Blues.
Probable Starting XI(3-5-2): Thibaut Courtois; Cesar Azpilicueta, Antonio Rudiger, Gary Cahill; Victor Moses, Cesc Fabregas, N’golo Kante, Marcos Alonso; Willian, Olivier Giroud, Eden Hazard
West Bromwich Albion
Pardew will be able to welcome back Jonny Evans, Kieran Gibbs and Grzegorz Krychowiak from injury, but is set to miss out on the services of Jake Livermore, James Morrison and Nacer Chadli, all of whom are out with injuries to their hamstring, foot and hip respectively.
The Baggies are expected to set up in the same 4-4-2 formation that they have been using over the course of the past few games and only some minor changes are expected to the side that started in their narrow 2-3 loss at the hands of Southampton last week.
Ben Foster will mostly retain his place in goal, while Kieran Gibbs is expected to return to assume his position at left back. Ahmed Hegazy is expected to be joined by Jonny Evans in the heart of defence, with Craig Dawson retaining his place at right back.
Chris Brunt and Matt Phillips will almost certainly start on the wings once again, with Grzegorz Krychowiak coming into central midfield ahead of Gareth Barry and setting up shop alongside Claudio Yacob. Salomon Rondon and Daniel Sturridge will likely start upfront for West Brom once again.
Probable Starting XI(4-4-2): Ben Foster; Craig Dawson, Jonny Evans, Ahmed Hegazy, Kieran Gibbs; Matt Phillips, Yacob, Grzegorz Krychowiak, Chris Brunt; Daniel Sturridge, Salomon Rondon
- Antonio Conte is in line to lose his third consecutive League game for the first time in nearly 9 years.(November 2009, whilst he was managing Atalanta in the Serie A).
- In 3 meetings that have taken place between the two sides during Antonio Conte’s reign as Chelsea manager, the Blues have won all 3 meetings without conceding a single goal.
- Chelsea have won 9 of their last 11 matches against West Brom at Stamford Bridge in the English Premier League
- West Brom have only managed to beat Chelsea at Stamford Bridge once in 15 attempts. It was a 1-3 victory back in the 1978/79 First Division season.
- West Brom have only 3 Premier League matches this entire season.
1. Both Teams to Score – YES @ 2.00
2. Over 3.5 Match Cards @ 2.25
3. West Brom Asian Handicap +1.5 @ 1.725
1. Daniel Sturridge to score anytime @ 4.50
Player To Watch
Chelsea: Olivier Giroud
Giroud is expected to make his first start for his new club on Monday and all eyes will be on the Frenchman to see how he fares on his Stamford Bridge debut. With Alvaro Morata unlikely to return anytime soon, it seems that Giroud will have no competition within the squad for the foreseeable future.
That means added responsibility on his shoulders now that he is their primary outlet for goals. Playing Hazard upfront as a ‘false 9’ hasn’t yielded desired results and the sooner Giroud starts getting the goals for the Blues, the better.
The Blues are currently fifth on the table, and the former Arsenal forward’s form will play a key role in determining whether Chelsea qualify for the Champions League next season.
Chelsea 2-1 West Bromwich Albion
After two humiliating, consecutive losses in the league at the hands of Bournemouth and Watford, the Blues are in desperate need of the victory to get morale up around Stamford Bridge and perhaps more importantly, to save Antonio Conte’s job.
West Brom have been in terrible form, with the last League victory coming back in August. On paper, this would look like an easy victory for the Blues, given the huge gulf of quality between the two sides and the Baggies form up until this point of the season.
However, Chelsea have made of habit of dropping points against opposition in the bottom half of the table, who are threatened by relegation. The Baggies will take inspiration from the likes of West Ham and Crystal Palace, both of whom managed to take all three points against Conte’s men.
However, despite the desperate situation faced by both clubs, we expect Chelsea to come out on top. It won’t be easy for the reigning champions, given that they are coming up against a side who are fighting for survival. Nonetheless, we expect a tense, narrow victory for Conte’s men.