Chelsea vs. West Brom Preview

Ahead of this Saturday’s clash with West Brom, I spoke to AlbionTillWeDie.co.uk, outlining my predictions for the match and season ahead. Here are my thoughts:

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It’s been a great first few months of the season for the Blues, currently sitting top of the Premier League unbeaten, and progressing nicely in both the Champions League and the Capital One Cup. Did the Chelsea support expect such a good start?

Absolutely; in all honesty, it should have gone better! There was so much optimism for the start of this season, because we knew we were not far off last season and with the additions in the summer, we felt very confident. However, fan optimism doesn’t necessarily translate into player performance — many buckle, as we are maybe seeing with Manchester City — which is where Mourinho has had to step in and reign in the ego so there’s no chance of complacency. I talk about it potentially having been better, of course referring to the two Manchester games, but we can settle for those solitary points away from home.

There’s been lots of talk recently as to whether Chelsea can go the entire season unbeaten, do you feel it’s really achievable or are you expecting a few hiccups somewhere along the way?

No I don’t, it’s very easy to not believe Mourinho’s words sometimes because he is uncannily smart and thinks through everything he conducts in his life, but I agree with him when he says this is a different era. At the turn of the millennium, it was really a top two, then top four, now arguably top six. It’s getting too competitive for a single team to walk is, which is what an unbeaten season would require. Having said that, whilst I don’t believe we can go unbeaten, securing Premier League points early is vital. It gets busy from February onwards and Chelsea suffered in April with the Atletico semi-finals sandwiching a Liverpool game, but this season, it looks like they’re buying themselves a bit of lee-way, securing the Premier League points early in the season where there’s not much else going on, allowing for the odd prioritisation of Champions League in the latter stages of the season.

 

How confident are you of seeing success in the Champions League?

You could always argue a case for Chelsea to win it, but so you could for Real Madrid and Bayern Munich. I’d imagine Chelsea have a semi-final berth in the bag, but then it comes down to the luck of the draw, and whether Mourinho can finally break his bad run of semi-final exits. Having said that, if we get past that hurdle, I can’t imagine Chelsea losing in the final.

 

Do the Blues have any obvious weakness that other teams should be looking to exploit?

 Yes if a full-strength side is not played. Many experts have made out that Fabregas is the weak link is the holding role and, granted, he is better further forward, but sitting deep allows him to utilise his other qualities, which is to read the game and dictate. He would be crowded out further forward with Hazard/Oscar etc and his versatility is useful. Whilst Courtois continues to get praise, I personally feel much more assured with Cech in goal still (this is not to say Courtois is a weakness). But when the fringe players play, that is where any team can really go for it. At the back, you will have the youngsters to have a go out (Zouma, Christensen, Ake) whilst up top, the likes of Schurrle will hardly scare you as much as Hazard/Costa.

Player of the season so far?

 Where to start! Costa for his goals and Fabregas for his assists have, of course, been the main talking points. But spare a thought, for me, for Nemanja Matic. One of the most startling present figures in the Chelsea team and fills a void Chelsea have had to deal with since Makelele left. Mikel was neither very defensive or very attacking; Matic can be relied upon to help Cahill out, but also to provide the assist of an assist for Chelsea’s frontmen.

Anyone been particularly disappointing?

 You have to say Schurrle.That right-wing spot is there for the taking: every other spot is taken but the fact Willian and Schurrle keeps changing for the right-wing berth suggests no-one has performed with immense consistency to fulfil it (hence Marco Reus rumours). On the back of a World Cup win, you would have expected a little more. Other than that, Felipe Luis has been OK when he has had his minutes but worth the £19 million for a 29-year-old? No.

Chelsea signed highly-rated young Albion midfielder Izzy Brown in an acrimonious deal back in July 2013, how’s he progressing?

 He’s done well, causing Mourinho to go as far as saying he would have failed if he can not make Brown an England contender for the future. 10 goals and six assists in 22 U21 appearances is a promising start, and will leave WBA even more infuriated he left with only peanuts for his services.

Prediction for Chelsea’s season?

 All the way in the Premier League. At least a semi-final in the Champions League. FA Cup winners and League Cup semis.

Prediction for Albion’s season?

 You’ll do alright. Three wins in the last 10 Premier League games will disappoint but Irvine looks an astute, if unpopular, figure. With the fact he is not the big name, WBA fans’ deflation may well translate into lower expectations and thus work in his favour.

Premier League Champions?

 Chelsea.

Relegated?

 Burnley, QPR, Crystal Palace.

Prediction and thoughts on Saturday’s game?

Chelsea should walk it, unless the international break has left us with a deteriorating Chelsea identity which Mourinho cannot re-find in the next days. However, Cahill has been inconsistent this season (sometimes brilliant, other times caught out) and Courtois does not fill me with as much confidence in getting a clean sheet as Cech does, so 3-1 for me.

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Post written by Martin Li. Martin has had three years’ blogging experience, writing for the likes of Bleacher Report and SWOL. He runs his own Chelsea blog — The Chelsea Chronicle — which has match reaction and analysis from every Chelsea match. You can follow him on Twitter.

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© Martin Li and The Chelsea Chronicle, 2011-2014. Unauthorised use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this Blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Martin Li and The Chelsea Chronicle with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

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3 thoughts on “Chelsea vs. West Brom Preview

  1. Chelsea & Mou look like the toughest kid in the playground right now. Even with het lags, they have enough depth this season. The Premier League is singing the Blues this year.

    Like

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