Chelsea vs West Bromwich Albion 03/04/21 – Full Match Report

West Brom snap Chelsea’s unbeaten streak with an excellent performance on the road.


Pre-game:

After rather confidently dispatching Sheffield United 2-0 and securing a spot in the final four of the FA Cup, Chelsea went into the international break on a high, two points clear in 4th with a favourable Champions League quarter final draw against Porto.


Before looking forward to consecutive cup ties, Chelsea had the matter of West Bromwich Albion at home to entertain, in an attempt to preserve their 14-match unbeaten streak under Thomas Tuchel and strengthen their bid for a top four finish.


West Brom and Sam Allardyce reserved the right to be pessimistic seeing as they were entering this fixture with a singular goal and win in their last 5 league games – keeping a solid defensive record in that time – conceding twice. Allardyce made a singular change to the side that fell to a 1-0 defeat at the hands of Crystal Palace, with the mandatory exclusion of the Chelsea loanee Connor Gallagher compensated by the addition of Semi Ajayi to the defence.


Tuchel re-rotated his heavily rotated starting eleven that progressed to the FA Cup semi-finals, with only Mateo Kovačić, Christian Pulisic and Kurt Zouma retaining their posts in the line-up. The likes of Mason Mount and Kai Havertz were excluded as a result of the demanding international break.


First half:

The game started off with a high tempo, both sides attacking and attempting to create chances. An instant insecurity from Chelsea was their assuredness on the ball in defence, with the 3 centre-backs struggling to string passes together early on. This led to a yellow card for Thiago Silva on the 5th minute for a foul on Matheus Pereira on the edge of the box.


Following this early scare, Chelsea began to find their feet in the game, with Marcos Alonso forcing a save from Sam Johnstone following a deep pass from Thiago Silva. Dara O’Shea sustained an injury from a challenge with Kurt Zouma and was unable to continue in the 24thminute, prompting the appearance of Chelsea Legend Branislav Ivanović who appeared in almost 400 games for the club.


3 minutes later the deadlock was broken by Christian Pulisic. The young American was the quickest to react following Marcos Alonso’s out-swinging free-kick rattling the post to give the Blues a somewhat deserved lead.


From that exact moment, the game began to sour for Chelsea. With the first attack of the restart, Okay Yokuşlu was found on the edge of the box and was subsequently brought down by Thiago Silva. Referee David Coote adjudged this to be a second bookable offence for the experienced Brazilian international and dismissed him a minute shy of the half hour mark.


This led to the introduction of Andreas Christensen at the expense of Hakim Ziyech on the 33rd minute.


The game was very open and attacking following Silva’s dismissal. It was very much end to end action, but unfortunately Ivanović was unable to keep up the game’s pace.


Following a dead sprint with Werner, he pulled up and had to be withdrawn for Callum Robinson on the 37thminute. This meant that Sam Allardyce had to change to a back 4 as a result of having no more natural fullbacks on the bench.


Some good chances for Chelsea passed, with James, Zouma and Christensen unable to benefit from attacking moves from the Blues. West Brom had similar chances and their persistence delivered due diligence when a Sam Johnstone clearance put Matheus Pereira in behind allowing him to lob the rapidly approaching Mendy, levelling the scores in the second minute of first half stoppage time.


Seconds later, a curling effort from Matty Phillips beat Mendy and nicked off the crossbar. Chelsea was then caught in possession again, and Pereira punished the Blues with a precise effort into the bottom right corner through a crowded box.


The first half finished 2-1 to West Brom.

Second half:

The game was perfectly poised for a thrilling and entertaining second half, and both teams did not disappoint.


Chelsea did well to continue to create chances, with Mount coming on at the break for goal scorer Pulisic, aiming to trouble the slightly insecure and heavily altered West Brom defence.


Alonso came the closest to pulling one back for Chelsea early in the second half. He saw his effort deflected onto the post in a spell of concentrated attacking possession for the Blues.


However, shortly after the hour mark following a Chelsea corner, Furlong found space on the right-hand side and whipped in a brilliant cross into the path of Callum Robinson, who thumped past a hapless Mendy to extend the Baggies’ lead to 2 on the 63rd minute. In a flurry of goals and capping off a dominant 8-minute display for West Brom, Mbaye Diagne was found by Pereira just inside the 18-yard box and drilled a low shot past Mendy into the bottom left corner for 4-1 on the 68th minute. Chelsea can be admired for maintaining some kind of tenacity. Alonso found Werner in the box who turned past two onrushing defenders and unselfishly laid a simple pass for Mount who calmly tapped in to bring the deficit back down to 2 with just under 20 minutes to play, much to Chelsea’s advantage given their momentum in the second half.


They began to lay siege, winning corner after corner and doing well to continue to create chances and make life very awkward for West Brom, who to their credit held on despite successive shots on target and a glaring miss from Zouma on the 76th minute, blazing a rebound over the bar and losing his composure at a crucial time. Chelsea was camped in the West Brom final third and were quite frustrated to see some refereeing decisions go against them, including a booking for Kovačić in the 66th minute and rightly denied penalty claims following challenges on Kai Havertz - who was introduced in the 72nd minute.


Despite Chelsea’s utter dominance in the final 15 minutes of the game, Callum Robinson was put in behind by Pereira, who thanks to a deft dinked finish over Mendy was able to secure his second assist of the game, setting the seal on a famous win for Sam Allardyce and West Brom at Stamford Bridge.

After the whistle:

Nothing should be taken away from West Brom who after a shaky start really grew into the game, especially following the dismissal of Thiago Silva. They followed Sam Allardyce’s counterattacking and high pressing tactical instructions and were fully deserved of their five goals in their five-star performance. With now the gap between them and safety at seven points with eight to play, their performance today should give them hope that they can play Premier League football next season.


In their bid for survival, West Brom take on Southampton at home next on the 12th of April.


The manner of defeat will be massively disappointing to both Thomas Tuchel and the squad, considering they had gone eleven and a half hours without conceding prior to today’s defensive disaster. There have been worse performances this season, however Chelsea were victim to the energy and desire of the West Brom players, who punished them in full for their sloppiness, a bit of an indicator that their defensive luck had run out.


Chelsea will need to put this setback behind them quickly as they take on Porto in the first leg of their Champions League Quarter Final tie on Wednesday night.


Final score:

Chelsea 2-5 West Brom.

- Pulisic (27’).

- Pereira (45+2’, 45+4’). - Robinson (63’, 90+1’). - Diagne (68’). - Mount (71’).


Line-ups:

Chelsea (3-4-2-1): Mendy; Azpilicueta ©, Silva, Zouma; James, Jorginho (72’), Kovačić, Alonso; Pulisic (45’), Ziyech (33’); Werner.

- Subs: Christensen (33’), Mount (45’), Havertz (72’).

West Brom (5-4-1): Johnston; Townsend, Ajayi, Bartley ©, O’Shea (24’), Furlong; Pereira, Maintland-Niles, Yokuşlu, Phillips (90’); Diagne.

- Subs: Ivanović (24’, 37’), Robinson (37’), Livermore (90’).


Referee:

David Coote.


Possession:

Chelsea (66%) vs West Brom (37%).


Shots:

Chelsea (18) vs West Brom (14).

Shots on target:

Chelsea (8) vs West Brom (7).

Corners:

Chelsea (10) vs West Brom (3).

Fouls:

Chelsea (11) vs West Brom (6).

- (credit | BBC Sport).


Match highlights:

- (credit| BT Sport).

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Written by Yendi (@ftblYendi).

Edited by Ryan Bellenie (@BellenieSport).

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