Chelsea will be aiming to continue their unbeaten run under Thomas Tuchel when they lock horns with West Bromwich Albion in the Premier League.
Premier League football returns to action this weekend after a two-week hiatus due to the international break. And we kick things off on Saturday afternoon at Stamford Bridge where top-four hopefuls Chelsea play hosts to relegation battlers West Bromwich Albion.
Chelsea have enjoyed a massive upturn of fortunes ever since Thomas Tuchel took over the reins of the club earlier this year. The Blues are currently on a 15-game unbeaten run in all competitions with 14 of those matches overseen by Tuchel. The last time they were in action, Chelsea ousted Sheffield United from the FA Cup to make it to the semi-finals.
Their previous league game had ended in a goalless draw against Leeds United, which allowed the likes of West Ham and Tottenham to close the gap to the west London side in the fourth spot. And Chelsea will be hoping to put further gap between themselves and the chasing pack as the race for top four heats up.
West Brom, meanwhile, look doomed for relegation. Sam Allardyce has not been able to work his magic since replacing Slaven Bilic as the manager, with the Baggies languishing in the 19th spot, ten points off of safety. West Brom are without a win in their last three games, with their latest fixture ending in a 1-0 loss to Crystal Palace.
The reverse fixture between the two teams was an entertaining affair as Chelsea came back from three goals down to salvage a point by holding West Brom to a 3-3 draw. Ahead of their latest meeting, The Hard Tackle takes a closer look at both teams.
Team News & Tactics
Thomas Tuchel expects N’Golo Kante to miss the first leg of the Champions League quarter-final against Porto next week due to injury pic.twitter.com/etgAYwoS3U
— B/R Football (@brfootball) April 2, 2021
Chelsea have been boosted by the return of Thiago Silva and Tammy Abraham, both of whom were sidelined for the entire last month. However, N’Golo Kante came back injured from international duty and will miss out. Jorginho stayed back during the international break due to a thigh problem but is expected to be available on Saturday.
Thomas Tuchel will set his team up in the 3-4-2-1 formation that he has preferred since taking over the reins of the club. Edouard Mendy, who also did not join with his national team during the break due to a dental issue, will continue in goal for the Blues.
Captain Cesar Azpilicueta should pair up with Andreas Christensen and Antonio Rudiger in the three-man defensive unit with Silva likely to be eased back into action. Reece James and Ben Chilwell, back after national duty with England, should feature as the wing-backs and will be tasked with providing the width during the attacking phases.
Jorginho should start in the centre of the park from where he will look to set the tempo of the game while his partner, Mateo Kovacic should be tasked with providing the attacking impetus.
Kai Havertz has seen some success playing as a No. 9 in recent games for the Blues and could once again get the nod on Saturday ahead of Olivier Giroud and Timo Werner, with the latter lining up alongside Mason Mount as an attacking midfielder despite his confidence being low after his shocking miss for Germany against North Macedonia.
Probable Lineup (3-4-2-1): Mendy; Azpilicueta, Christensen, Rudiger; James, Kovacic, Jorginho, Chilwell; Mount, Werner; Havertz
West Bromwich Albion
West Brom will have to make do without key midfielder Conor Gallagher, who is on loan from Chelsea and is ineligible to face his parent club. Apart from him, manager Sam Allardyce has no other absentees ahead of his side’s trip to the capital.
Big Sam will set his team up in a 4-5-1 formation, with the Baggies expected to sit deep and make it difficult for Chelsea to find spaces in attack. Sam Johnstone, who has been one of the few positives in a disappointing campaign for West Brom will man the goal.
Darnell Furlong and Conor Townsend will form the full-back pairing who will look to play close to the cenre-back partnership of Semi Ajayi and Kyle Bartley. That would mean ex-Chelsea icon Branislav Ivanovic is unlikely to get a chance to take the field on his return to Stamford Bridge.
Okay Yokuslu will sit the deepest in the middle of the park and look to shield the West Brom backline while Ainsley Maitland-Niles and Robert Snodgrass will likely play in slightly more advanced roles. Matt Phillips and the dangerous Matheus Pereira will be the two wide men who will look to pump in crosses for Mbaye Diagne to attack.
Probable Lineup (4-5-1): Johnstone; Furlong, Ajayi, Bartley, Townsend; Phillips, Maitland-Niles, Yokuslu, Snodgrass, Pereira; Diagne
1. Over 2.5 Match Goals @ 1.80
1. Over 0.5 Shots – Matheus Pereira @ 2.62
- Chelsea have won 10 of their last 12 home matches against West Brom in all competitions.
- West Brom have failed to score in 5 of their last 7 matches in the Premier League.
- Chelsea have managed to keep a clean sheet in each of their last five home games in the Premier League.
- West Brom are without a win in 13 of their last 14 matches away from home in the Premier League.
- Since a 0-1 defeat to Bournemouth back in December 2015, Chelsea have won their last 11 Premier League home matches against teams in the relegation zone by an aggregate scoreline of 31-4.
Player to Watch
Kai Havertz in the 11 starts as the #10 and #9 for Chelsea & Germany this season:
2 penalties won
18 chances created
5 big chances created
3 man of the matches pic.twitter.com/uJC2MvB6Pq
— 𝙅𝙧. 🇰🇿 (@branojr) March 28, 2021
It has been a difficult debut season in England for Havertz, who came into the club after a stellar 2019/20 campaign with Bayer Leverkusen. However, in the past couple of game, the 21-year-old has shown some promise, with Thomas Tuchel utilising him as a No. 9, which has seen him get more involved in the final third and get into dangerous positions more regularly.
Now, it is up to Havertz to take the next step and display his ability to find the back of the net on a more consistent basis. It might not be as easy against a physically robust West Brom backline who will make life difficult for the German international. But a good game here could set Havertz up for a strong finish to the season as Chelsea push for a top four berth and progress in FA Cup and the Champions League.
Chelsea 3-0 West Bromwich Albion
West Brom may have managed to get a point in their last meeting against Chelsea but things are much more different now. Under Thomas Tuchel, the Blues have become near-impregnable at the back, with only one team scoring past them in the German’s ten leagues game in charge.
There is still some work to be done at the other end, though, with the attack yet to fire on all cylinders. Nonetheless, Chelsea should have more than enough on the day to pick up another important win and strengthen their position in the top four race.