West Bromwich Albion vs Chelsea - Baggies Preview

Saturday 18th November

With the pressure mounting on Tony Pulis the game against last season’s champions Chelsea could not really come at a worse time for the struggling Baggies. Conte’s side have been poor by comparison to last season yet they find themselves 9 points off leaders Man City and sitting in fourth.

15th Nov 2017

It is strange to think that there is probably no better time to face Chelsea considering some of their disjointed performances of late and even stranger to hear rumours that Conte, despite a wonderful performance last season, may be leaving the London club sooner rather than later.

Rumours about the future of Tony Pulis are at least reasonable considering the fact that we have not won in 9 games and we have only won three times in the last 23 league matches. Conte on the other hand has just won a title with a Chelsea team that looked nowhere near ready to challenge for one before he arrived.

In our last 10 encounters with Chelsea the Baggies have won two, the last being in 2015, drawn 3 and lost 5. With owner Guochuan Lai scheduled to attend there will be added pressure on Pulis to get a good performance from his team.

When you consider that the Chinese owner paid £200m for an 88% stake in the club he is well within his right to expect more than has been on offer of late. West Brom will be boosted by the return of Oliver Burke our £15m signing has been out of contention with a hamstring injury but played and scored for the U21s in midweek. His pace could be a real boost for the team but I would expect him to start on the bench.

No doubt Pulis will set up defensively again and try to hit the Champions on the break. We have to be realistic about what he has available to work with in this squad but I would like to see us start with Chadli and Phillips in the line-up. Their pace and ability from set pieces might see us create some chances for front men Rondon and Rodriguez.

Knowing how thing have been going it is unlikely we will have many chances and the key will be making sure we take them when they arrive. Misses at key points in the games against both Manchester City and Huddersfield Town came back to haunt us and déjà vu is not an unfamiliar feeling for the Baggies faithful. 

Most feared opposition player

Eden Hazard is almost unplayable at times but the one player that stands out and is often under rated is Chelsea left back Marcos Alonso. His marauding runs down the left could cause real problems for Nyom and will keep us from getting any joy down that side. His set piece delivery could also cause havoc for the Baggies back line, not to mention the fact that he has weighed in with a couple goals already this season and banged in 6 last term.

Predicted starting XI

Foster, Nyom, McAuley, Hegazi, Evans, Gibbs, Barry, Livermore, Krychowiak, Rodriguez, Rondon

Head prediction

We will be without a win in 10 league games after this one and I can only see us losing. Chelsea have that ruthless streak which makes not liking them even easier, just hope with don’t get completely blown away and are still in the game with 20 minutes to play.

Heart prediction

We will give them a good game, look good on the counter and prevent at least 20% of those inside the Hawthorns from falling asleep in their seats. In terms of the result we will grab a draw with a goal from a set piece to rescue a point and Rondon will be the one to score it.

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