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Chelsea vs. West Bromwich Albion, Premier League: Preview, team news, how to watch

Must. Win.


Having to face the worst team in the Premier League at the lowest point of the season, in a bid to right the ship, calm a few nerves, assure a few futures, and snap out of the current funk should be considered fortuitous timing.

But given Chelsea’s relative struggles against relegation candidates this season, including losses to Crystal Palace and West Ham when both were bottom of the table, as well the recent back-to-back blowout losses to mid-table minnows Bournemouth and Watford, not to mention West Brom’s sordid history in being the death knell for two of the last three non-interim managers at Stamford Bridge, it’s tough to feel too confident.

A must win then, if there ever was one for Antonio Conte, both in terms of his own position and the team’s top four prospects.

Date / Time: Monday, February 12, 2018, 20:00 GMT; 3pm EST; 1:30am IST (next day)

Venue: Stamford Bridge, SW6

Referee: Lee Mason — back for the third time this season; last time seen giving Álvaro Morata a yellow card at the end of the 2-1 win over Bournemouth in the League Cup.

Forecast: Cold; winter is still here.

On TV: Sky Sports Premier League (UK); NBCSN (USA); Star Sports Select HD1 (India); elsewhere

Streaming online: Sky Go (UK); NBC Sports Live Extra (USA); Hotstar (India)

Chelsea team news: Much concern about Álvaro Morata, whose back continues to keep him out indefinitely, though some reports indicate he could be back next weekend (or perhaps even earlier?). Much less concern about Ross Barkley, who’s the latest hamstring injury victim at the Bridge, but I’m not sure was mentioned even once in the build-up to this game. Meanwhile, everyone’s favorite new scapegoat Tiemoué Bakayoko is serving his one-match suspension for the silly sending off last Monday.

Andreas Christensen, Marcos Alonso, Pedro, Willian and David Luiz are expected to be available and Olivier Giroud could make his first start for the club as the Blues look for the three points necessary to finish the weekend back in the top four.

Chelsea have won just two games in all competitions in 2018 (plus one more on a penalty kick shootout), and have lost back-to-back games by three goals for the first time in who knows how long. These are undoubtedly the worst times under Antonio Conte, but hopefully we’ve hit the relative bottom and are ready to finish strong in the final dozen games left in the season while also finding some success in the FA Cup and maybe even the Champions League.

West Bromwich Albion team news: After going four unbeaten in mid-January in all competitions, West Brom have returned to form by losing two in a row. They currently sit four points adrift at the bottom of the table and as congested as the bottom half of the Premier League may be at the moment, the Baggies look nailed on for relegation already. Alan Pardew has done nothing to improve their prospects since taking over from Tony Pulis, though the arrival of Daniel Sturridge on loan in January could add some quality to the squad.

But, as mentioned at the top, West Brom have had a habit of playing a part in key moments in recent Chelsea history, serving as foil for last season’s title-clinching win in addition to their less serendipitous contributions to the fates of André Villas-Boas and Roberto Di Matteo, so any form or logic or common sense goes out the window for this one.

Anything from Chelsea wiping the floor 6-0 with them to Chelsea slumping to a third successive defeat and a Conte sacking could be in the cards Monday night. There will be drama, that’s for certain.

Previously: It was easy three months ago.

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