The Chelsea official website will tell you that Chelsea are “unbeaten against West Bromwich Albion in the league at Stamford Bridge for 38 years”, but of course that actually includes only 13 games, which makes it slightly less impressive. Still, ten wins and three draws is nothing to sneeze at. And I would be expecting nothing less than another win on Sunday. But in the last five years, West Brom have proven rather pesky opposition. The easy wins against the Baggies from the first decade of the 2000s are just memories, the 6-0s and 4-0s and clean sheets replaced by 3-2s and 2-2s and 1-0s. There have even been monumental losses, including the death knells for two managers.
In the last five seasons (not including the season currently in progress), Chelsea have taken fewer points in games against West Brom than all but three of the teams present for all five of those seasons in the league. Obviously, this is an arbitrary cutoff point and I’m conflating home and away results, but it all adds up to the general feeling of annoyance. (Sidenote: LOL, Arsenal.)
Despite being generally low-scoring affairs, many of these are etched firmly into memory.
2011-12: 2-1 win (H); 1-0 loss (A)
The home match was Andre Villas-Boas’s second match in charge after an opening day 0-0 draw against Stoke. Chelsea went behind early as Ramires gifted a goal to Shane Long, then came back in the second half with goals from later exiled Nicolas Anelka and later-later exiled Florent Malouda. The reverse fixture was AVB’s final game in charge. Gareth McAuley scored the game’s only goal in the final ten minutes. AVB was sacked the next day, and the rest is history.
2012-13: 2-1 loss (A); 1-0 win (H)
The next time we played West Brom proved to the be last league game for another manager as Di Matteo got the heave-ho a few days later, after losing to Juventus. The decision had been made well before then, supposedly. Shane Long, annoyingness personified, scored again, as did Peter Odemwingie after Eden Hazard got us back into it with a header. I have zero memory of the reverse fixture but that’s probably because I’ve blocked most things Interim out. Apparently Demba Ba scored the only goal.
2013-14: 2-2 draw (H); 1-1 draw (A)
A pair of draws, the first of which saw yet another goal from Shane Long as well as a rather harsh penalty awarded for a Ramires dive-ish thing that Hazard converted.
Load of shit.— Ben Foster (@BenFoster) November 9, 2013
The second match of the season saw Chelsea concede a late equalizer to Victor Anichebe after Branislav Ivanović got the Blues on the board.
2014-15: 2-0 win (H); 3-0 loss (A)
A routine win in the first half of the season with early goals from Hazard and Costa and then a red card for Cladio Yacob effectively ending the contest just a half hour into it. (Let’s repeat this one on Sunday!) The reverse fixture came after Chelsea had already clinched the title. It was Fàbregas who got himself sent off this time in what remains easily one of the more hilarious red cards you’ll ever see.
2015-16: 3-2 win (A); 2-2 draw (H)
The win was Pedro’s debut game, when we thought it was still just a slow, rather than disastrous start we were having to the league. John Terry got sent off in this one, which I had forgotten about. The second match was with Hiddink in charge, so of course it ended in a draw. This time it was James McClean who grabbed a late equalizer for West Brom.