Six months and six days ago, a sixth goal for the sixth title was celebrated at the Hawthorns. Now Chelsea return to what’s otherwise a bit of a bogey ground, and without Michy Batshuayi to win it late for us — his goal unfortunately was not six minutes from time but rather eight.
Before that triumphant mid-May evening, Chelsea had won just once in four tries away at West Brom, and with Tony Pulis in charge these days, counting on all three points is not something that can be done all that confidently, even if all statistical indicators would have us believe otherwise. And if we factor in that Chelsea lost to similarly terrible opposition that last time we came out of an international break — that 2-1 result is still Crystal Palace’s only win in the Premier League this season! — we can see why we might approach this game with some trepidation.
That said, hopefully all involved at Chelsea have learned from that shocking defeat and will thus avoid a similar fate here today.
Date / Time: Saturday, November 18, 2017, 15:00 GMT; 10am EST; 8:30pm IST
Venue: The Hawthorns, West Bromwich, England
Referee: Jonathan Moss — this will the 20th Chelsea game of Mr. Moss’s career; we’ve won the last 8 with him in charge, including two already this season: Everton (2-0) and Watford (4-2) at home.
Forecast: Cold and dry with overnight frost.
On TV: none (UK); none (USA); Star Sports Select HD2 (India); elsewhere
Streaming online: NBC Sports Gold (USA); Hotstar (India); ChelseaTV (int’l radio)
West Bromwich Albion team news: The general lack of TV coverage for this game could be explained by West Brom’s absolutely atrocious form, as they have now gone ten (10!) games without a win, including four draws. That four of their six defeats have come by only one goal however does show that they continue to be a (haw-)thorn in other teams’ sides. Not even Manchester City were immune to this, eking out only a 3-2 victory here last month despite scoring twice in the first 15 minutes.
Pulis remains without one of his usual defensive starters in Craig Dawson, who remains out with a knee injury. Joining him on the sidelines are Nacer Chadli and James Morrison, two players who possess something rare among all the other Baggies: a goal to their name.
But statistics tend to go out the window on these occasion. Goalkeeper Ben Foster has had a habit of turning up against Chelsea, while Salomon Rondón at the other end tends to throw his size about effectively. This West Brom side is loaded with experience and plenty of Premier League miles — their starting lineups average about 30 years of age, highest in the league — and one would expect them to eventually get it together and avoid relegation.
Chelsea team news: Victor Moses, Michy Batshuayi, and Charly Musonda Jr are set to miss out through various injuries while Danny Drinkwater continues to come up to speed and fitness following a few months on the sidelines. Over the international break, multiple players picked up minor knocks as well, including Álvaro Morata, Eden Hazard, Tiemoué Bakayoko, and David Luiz but none are expected to miss out because of them. The latter, having been dropped from the matchday squad last time (and thus becoming rumor mill fodder) will be included once again, though it’s not clear whether he’ll start or not.
Chelsea entered the international break on a high note, beating José Mourinho at the Stamford Bridge once again, with Morata getting back on the scoresheet with a fantastic header and yet another assist from Assistpilicueta. That result leaves three teams separated by just one point behind runaway leaders Manchester City in the top four. It won’t be the last turn that drama takes this season.
Previously: Speaking of Azpilicueta assists, here’s what happened last time Chelsea visited West Brom.