It feels like forever since Chelsea last played, and that’s especially true as far as the Premier League campaign’s concerned since we went into the international break on the back of big wins in the Champions League and the FA Cup. But even as our attentions were on other competitions, we did receive a boost by West Ham dropping two points against Arsenal despite taking a 3-0 lead, which means that we’re solidly in fourth without having to worry about teams below us having matches-in-hand.
Of course, the gaps and margins remain small, especially with Spurs in good form and just three points behind in sixth. And surely Liverpool won’t be as bad as they’ve been recently for the rest of the season either.
Only a quarter of the Premier League season remains. 29 played, 9 to go. Our top-four destiny is in our hands.
Where we're at ahead of the season run-in pic.twitter.com/Y21yuGOvvs— Premier League (@premierleague) March 30, 2021
Date / Time: Saturday, April 3, 2021, 12.30 BST; 7:30am EDT; 5pm IST
Venue: Stamford Bridge, SW6
Referee: David Coote (on pitch); Chris Kavanagh (VAR)
Forecast: Breezy and cool; not yet springlike
On TV: BT Sport 1 (UK); NBCSN, Universo (USA); Star Sports Select HD1 (India); SuperSport Premier League, Canal+ Sport 3 (NGA); elsewhere
Streaming: BT Sport Live (UK); NBC Sports Live, Telemundo Deportes En Vivo (USA); Hotstar (India); DStv Now (NGA)
Chelsea team news: As usual, the international break came at a rather inopportune time, interrupting our unbeaten run that stretches back to Lampard’s final game in charge and now extends to fourteen under Tuchel, ten in the Premier League itself.
It’s a run that’s been built on a spectacular defensive record — just two (2!) goals conceded in all competitions — rather than spectacular goal-scoring. Chelsea have yet to score more than two goals in any game under Tuchel, and that’s unlikely to change against a West Brom side who’ve conceded just three goals in their last six games.
The international break also saw N’Golo Kanté pick up yet another hamstring injury, while also burdening the likes of Mason Mount, Kai Havertz, Mateo Kovačić, Antonio Rüdiger, and Andreas Christensen with plenty of minutes and miles traveled. Fortunately, we should have Thiago Silva and Tammy Abraham back in contention at long last, while Jorginho and Édouard Mendy, who were not called up by their national teams due to a knee knock and a dental procedure, respectively, should be good to go as well.
Chelsea have massive games coming up in Europe (Porto in the Champions League quarterfinals) and in the FA Cup (Manchester City in the semifinals), but we must not overlook these two relatively easy games coming up in the Premier League, against second-to-last West Brom then against midtable Crystal Palace next weekend.
West Bromwich Albion: The Baggies are heading back down to Bag End, as their midseason coaching change from Slaven Bilić to (Big) Sam Allardyce has done little to derail that eventuality. Chelsea loanee Conor Gallagher’s play hasn’t been enough neither, nor have the contributions of Chelsea legend Branislav Ivanović. Neither is likely to feature, with the former ineligible and the latter having played just eleven minutes in the last three months.
Despite their recent defensive improvement, West Brom have the worst goal differential in the league, having conceded a league-leading 57 times, while scoring just 20 goals (though which is still four more than Sheffield United). They are ten points adrift of safety, but it might as well be a hundred. They’ve won just 3 games all season, the lowest number of league wins in any of England’s top four divisions.
That said, Big Sam will want to stick it to Tactics Tommy, and not just with aggressive gum-chewing, because that’s what Out-Tac-Ticking Big Sam does.
Previously: Chelsea had to come from 3-0 down to salvage a point at the Hawthorns earlier this season. That said, we haven’t lost to West Brom since the end of the 2014-15 season, and we haven’t lost to them at home since 1978.