The first half was pretty much dominated by Chelsea, but slow ball movement in the final third didn't lead to a whole lot in the way of Chelsea chances. For their part, Steve Clarke's side seemed content to just allow Chelsea to keep feeding Branislav Ivanovic and simply wait for the defender to launch a harmless cross into the 18-yard box. The poacher of goals was there to steal one for Chelsea seconds before the break, and the Blues went into the half with the lead.
The second half nearly opened with a 'wow' moment, as Eden Hazard just failed to control an absolutely sensational 60-yard pass from Oscar. The lack of a second left the Blues at risk though, and they were punished at the hour mark by some truly awful set piece defending. West Brom would grab a second on the break following a clear foul, leaving the Blues down a goal with just over 20 minutes to play.
Mourinho responded by shifting to three in the back, opting for the chaotic sort of all-out attack we've seen on several occasions already this season. For the most part it worked, as Chelsea created quite a few fantastic chances between the switch and the end of the game. In typical Chelsea fashion though, they weren't able to finish any of them.
The Blues were let off the hook though in the dying seconds of the game. Ramires went down in the box after he and Stephen Reid made slight contact, and Andre Mariner didn't hesitate to point toward the spot. I'm not 100% sure it was deserving of a penalty, but it wouldn't surprise me if Mariner used the incident as a chance to make up for his botched call before the second West Brom goal.
In the end, it's a point apiece for the clubs ahead of the international break. Here are a few thoughts at the conclusion of this one:
- It's been a while since Chelsea had a center forward that seemed to have a knack for finding the garbage goals, but Samuel Eto'o has been creating quite a few of those of late. I can't wait for Eto'o to really find some chemistry with the band behind him.
- Willian and Oscar are going to cause nightmares for a lot of teams going forward. The ground those two cover and their ability to regain possession and quickly start the counter may not amount to much against clubs parking the bus, but when we're playing sides of a bit more quality it's going to lead to some goals.
- If teams are going to continue conceding the ball on the right side to Ivanovic, we really need to start getting someone making a run from the left flank with regularity. With our left back generally sitting deep to help solidify the defense, I'd really like to see one of Ramires or Frank Lampard regularly filling that space from a deeper position.
- Stay healthy over the break boys, we'll see you again in two weeks.