Chelsea are champions in Conte’s first season after hard-fought 1-0 win at West Brom

Match Summary

Chelsea are crowned Premier League champions for the sixth time in their history, but were made to work for it with a slender 1-0 victory against West Brom.

The Baggies had to withstand 24 shots and surrendered 68% of the possession, but kept the Blues waiting until the 82nd minute, where unlikely hero Michy Batshuayi showed something for his £32 million price tag to score the title-winning goal.

It caps off a fantastic debut season in England for Antonio Conte, who becomes only the fourth manager to lift the Premier League trophy in his first season in England, and means Chelsea secure their fifth Premier League title in the last 13 seasons, a record only matched by Manchester United.

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It was clear Chelsea wanted to win this from the off and leave two games spare to give fringe players a chance and, of course, give John Terry a proper farewell.

However it was not going to be a mere formality. 20 seconds Rondon leapt highest and Chelsea needed a tall goalkeeper in Courtois to to tip over the bar.

But, bar the initial lapse, it was Chelsea chance after Chelsea chance, but credit to West Brom’s disciplined defending.

Hazard drew a foul and an early free-kick opportunity for Fabregas was nearly turned in by Cahill, whilst Fabregas yet again tried to turn provider for Costa.

Pedro took matters in his own hands when he tried to re-create his spectacular opener against Everton last month, but saw his effort sky over the bar.

A marginal penalty claim for Chelsea was ignored by Michael Oliver, the Premier League’s most-used referee this season, whilst Azpilicueta was the next man to have a shot which was deflected behind for another corner.

The warning signs were there though on more than one occasion: Fabregas lost the ball high up in West Brom’s half but all of a sudden a West Brom counter saw two chasing down the solitary Gary Cahill, but Hazard did superbly well to track back and clear danger. Moments later there was another similar West Brom counter, an ominous sign for the visitors but indicative the Blues did not care if they drew or lost — they were here for the win.

More drama saw more set-pieces go Chelsea’s way, firstly Moses was brought down and Cahill had a good chance from the ensuing free-kick, whilst a penalty claim by Hazard, who went down under Evans’ challenge, was perhaps more 50-50. Michael Oliver was right on it.

West Brom were doing well to keeping Chelsea back, with the visitors resorting to long-range 25-yard drives by Azpilicueta or Fabregas. 11 attempts in the first half an hour summed up the persistence, but only one was on target whilst West Brom already had two from just three shots.

Being more clinical was what Chelsea needed to work on after the break and the first two chances went to Moses, who did brilliantly to evade Brunt and McLean but Foster’s hands were strong.

Luiz had to be alert at the other end when Fulham did have the odd chance, but it was West Brom who really had to be on their toes. Fabregas sliced a shot wide, whilst Hazard was nearly through which almost led a Dawson own goal.

The Blues were still huffing and puffing: Costa was found in the centre but dallied with his shot and failed to released Pedro who would have been in, whilst Fabregas was a fraction of a second too slow in releasing the ball to Hazard, who would have beaten the offside trap.

Late jitters gave West Brom the opportunity to steal the unlikely lead. Rondon was one-on-one with Luiz, who tried to bring him down which could have brought the red card, but the Venezuelan kept his footing and raced in on Courtois’ goal. Mercifully Azpilicueta got back.

Then, Chadli was again through on the right flank; another huge one-on-one chance but the former Tottenham man dragged it wide.

It looked like Conte would bring on Kante to sure up the defence which looked prone to a counter-attack, but the Italian was not messing about. Willian and Batshuayi came on, whilst Hazard and Pedro, for all their efforts, had been too well contained by West Brom.

But the night was Chelsea’s; Batshuayi would make his impact within six minutes of his introduction.

Having given the ball away multiple times and conceded three fouls in those six minutes, he would then prove to be the unlikely goalscorer and seal the trophy for Chelsea. The ball dropped nicely to Cahill in the centre of the goal, but his shot was skewed wide. Thankfully Azpilicueta was alert where Brunt was not, and the Spaniard recycled the ball which was not going to go out of play, squaring to Batshuayi to tap home from two yards out.

Five minutes of injury time prolonged the agony and delayed the celebrations, but the bubbly was to be popped open soon enough. Conte had conquered England in his debut season.

What are your thoughts from the game? Leave your thoughts in the Comments section below!

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Man of the Match

ANTONIO CONTE: Azpilicueta would probably go down as my Player of the Match, but the man underpinning tonight, and indeed the entire season’s success, has to go down to Antonio Conte. Tactics were on-point, as they were early in the season when he spootted the need to change to a back five, but on the night too, unafraid to take off Hazard and Pedro in the pursuit of a more direct option in Batshuayi. And it paid off in some style. 9/10

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Manager Reaction

Conte was reflective: “This is a great achievement for the players. I thank them for their commitment and work rate. They show me a great attitude to try to do something great this season. It was not easy for me to arrive in England and try different habits, a different language and inherit players after a bad season. We were not lucky, we did a great job. It’s important to rest. It is a great season but now we can win the FA Cup.” On his animated touch-line antics: “Every game I feel like I have played with my players! I show my passion and my will, my desire to stay with my players in every moment of the game. This is me, I am this. In the present, in the past, I stay with my players in positive and negative situations. We won this title together.” On his switch of formation in October: “That decision changed our season. We had to change and find a new suit for our team. In my mind there was this option to play a 3-4-3 because I knew I had the players to do that.”

Pulis was full of praise for his counter-part: “They’re worthy champions alright. They had a poor start, and Conte had to change things. He has made it his team. He changed their shape and they’ve been superb from that moment onwards.”

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Fan View

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Post written by Martin Li. Martin has had five 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, 2011-2017. 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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Costa sends Chelsea back to the top of the table with hard-fought 1-0 win against West Brom

Match Summary

Chelsea made it nine wins in a row for the first time since 2007 with a hard-fought victory against determined West Brom.

Diego Costa’s goal with a quarter of an hour left, his 12th of the season, was all it needed in a cagey game that had just three shots on target between the sides.

Despite Chelsea dominating 68% of the possession, it looked like the winning streak would be over and the hosts would be left frustrated by a defensively-solid West Brom approach, but Costa took his moment to send his fans and his manager into delirium, and crucially his side back to the top of the table.

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Chelsea have not lost a top-flight home match against West Brom since 1978, but it was a tepid first-half of possession but no clear-cut chances, a testament to West Brom’s shape and structure to nullify Chelsea.

The Baggies were content to let players like Cesar Azpilicueta on the ball, who could do not harm but play square balls, whilst still keeping the structure of an away side. One dangerous cross by Alonso was about as exciting as it started, and there was some good footwork bu Pedro but to no avail.

The only goal attempt so far was West Brom’s despite the hosts having all the ball, with Chris Brunt evading three challenges and curling one just wide. It had enough zip to make Courtois worried.

Rondon was then proving to be a handful against a Luiz, who had a momentary lapse in concentration when shepherding the ball out and Rondon pounced on the misjudgement to get a shot through Azpilicueta’s legs. Thankfully it flew wide of Courtois’ goal, but it was excellent centre-forward display.

Kante then fired a daisy-cutter which would have gone wide but for Pedro sticking out a leg to wrong-foot Foster, but the diversion was too strong and went wide of the other post. It would have been unlucky for the visitors to concede like this but it was an indication of how Chelsea might need to get the breakthrough.

Chelsea had recorded 203 passes within the first 36 minutes whilst West Brom were still in double figures, but nothing really was note-worthy. Pedro’s cross nearly found Costa’s head but the Spaniard was well-marked. Luiz at the other end had a couple of free-kick opportunities, one which flew over and one which was too low to concern Foster.

Would the game really spark into life in the second half?

Not with how slow West Brom were playing and their deliberate time-wasting.

Foster was talking circa 15 seconds with every restart as Mike Dean’s patience wore thin but his side had some opportunities which involved last-ditch challenges by Cahill.

Conte, sensing nothing was working, brought Willian on and shifted from 5-2-3 to 4-1-4-1 with Moses further forward.

But it was a later substitution — Fabregas for Moses — which proved decisive.

Fabregas’ pass should have been cleared by McAuley but Costa was harrying the defender on the right-wing and cut back. At full speed the Spaniard unleashed an excellent shot to send his side in front, much to the delight of Conte.

Chelsea have not lost from a winning position for 14 months, but Pulis was keen to try by bringing on Chadli and Robson-Kanu. Conte was equally keen to see this out by bringing on Ivanovic for Hazard, and the hosts stood firm, keeping an eighth clean sheet along the way.

What are your thoughts from the game? Leave your thoughts in the Comments section below!

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Man of the Match

diego-costa-thumbnailDIEGO COSTA: One chance, one world-class finish from the left-foot after being totally exhausted of service all game and tremendously doubled-up on. It was a hopeful ball by Fabregas but the Spaniard out-muscled McAuley and then out-witted Foster to break the deadlock and it was a real test of his patience. For a man who still cannot speak English in post-match interviews, he is letting his feet do the talking and boy is it showing this season. 7/10

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Manager Reaction

Conte knew this would not be easy: “For sure there was relief [to win], it was a tough game and we prepared for this situation. West Brom is a tough team, a physical team who are difficult to break down. It was a good win and now we must continue. We have won nine in a row which is fantastic because this league is very tough. We are working very well.”

Pulis was tactical in his approach and it nearly paid off: “I was happy all the way through the game. They play a different system to most teams and we’d worked on a structure to beat them. Our structure and organisation was very good [but] one mistake, one chance and the fella (Diego Costa) puts it away – that’s the difference in quality that separates the teams at the top.”

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Fan View

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Post written by Martin Li. Martin has had five 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, 2011-2016. 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.

Chelsea left frustrated after 2-2 draw against West Brom

Match Summary

Chelsea were booed off the pitch after another dismal showing by the Blues in front of their home fans.

Cesar Azpilicueta opened the scoring but Craig Gardner replied in the first half, but it looked like McAuley’s own goal would seal Chelsea the points and continue this mini-revival under Guus Hiddink.

Instead, more sloppy play from players who continue to lack the drive to see out matches saw McLean score a late equaliser as more points continue to be dropped and Chelsea can still not record back-to-back league victories, such as been their inconsistency.

It means Chelsea are still in 14th position and 12 points off the Champions League places, with tricky ties to Everton and Arsenal coming up.

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It really should not have been that hard. Costa set the motion running with early shots, as too did Willian as Chelsea looked to get going.

That effort was rewarded with 20 minutes on the clock with an excellent flowing goal. Fabregas played a long ball to Costa, who held up well and teed up Willian. His pass out wide to Ivanovic freed up space and the Serbian delivered one of his better balls whipped in across the penalty area. Diego Costa missed the return but following up close behind was Cesar Azpilicueta to tap in.

But when can Chelsea ever hold onto leads? Just 13 minutes later and West Brom were back in it. Pedro was shoved off the ball and Gardner drilled a shot from 25 yards.

The Spaniard would be hooked off at half-time for Kenedy, with the youngster eager to impress as much as Loftus-Cheek did in weekend’s outing against Scunthorpe.

One man who should not have been on the field of play was Claudio Yacob. The midfielder was cautioned in the first half for tripping Willian and he should have received his marching orders after tripping Costa when in a good counter-attacking position.

Still, it beggars belief that Chelsea literally need to hope for a one-man advantage to have any hope of winning. Kenedy looked to set that right when he drifted in an advanced position and when Willian crossed in, Kenedy put sufficient pressure on McAuley for the defender to inadvertently divert the ball into his own net past Myhill.

Could Chelsea hold on? Of course not, and it was a lead lasting only 13 minutes again, this time McClean drilling in a shot past Courtois from 20 yards.

The boos rang round and the chants for Mourinho returned in full view of Roman Abramovich.

What are your thoughts from the game? Leave your thoughts in the Comments section below!

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Man of the Match

willian.thumbnailWILLIAN: Chelsea’s only hope, it seems. The Brazilian put in another excellent shift and put in 10 crosses in the box, one of which gave Chelsea their second. His constant energy and quick turn of pace gives Chelsea their best chance of scoring something, plus he does have a tremendous shot on him even if he did waste a free-kick opportunity late in the game. 7/10

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Manager Reaction

Hiddink was fair in his appraisal: “The unbeaten run goes on but we would have preferred the win. West Brom always bounce back, there is great character. It was an intense game. Tony Pulis made a wise decision when he took over the role of the referee and took off Claudio Yacob. The referee forgot to do it.”

Pulis also appreciated the challenge Chelsea presented: “We are pleased. It was a tough game, you have to ride your luck and work hard and we did that. We were disappointed with one or two of our players because they got wound up and kept the crowd going. You have to be sensible and you have to play with your head.”

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Post written by Martin Li. Martin has had five 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, 2011-2016. 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.

West Bromwich Albion 2-3 Chelsea

Match Summary

Chelsea got their campaign up and running with a hard-fought 3-2 win against West Brom at a rainy Hawthorns.

The Blues, who have not made as slow a start to a season since the 1998/1999 season, looked in control through Pedro and Costa, but two Morrison goals either side of a Chelsea third meant there was much drama and nerves for Mourinho’s 300th game in charge of Chelsea, especially as Terry was sent off after 54 minutes.

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It has been a frantic week at Chelsea after a slow start to the campaign and an unwelcome debacle regarding ‘medic-gate’, but there is always method to Mourinho’s ways and whilst the arrival fo Rahman and Pedro smacks of panic buying, Mourinho has got his own way again. With Stones likely to join, Chelsea look ambitious again after a summer of resting on their laurels.

There is certainly a space for new arrivals in the team, with Pedro arriving on Thursday and starting on Sunday for his Chelsea and Premier League debut, whilst Cahill dropped to the bench in favour of Zouma and, maybe in the future, for Stones. Oscar, Ramires and Cuadrado were all absent after speculation one or more of the trio may depart to Juventus as the Blues look to recruit Pogba.

Would these quick-fire additions spring Chelsea into life? Pedro certainly showed the way, at a ground where Chelsea have lost three of the last four visits here.

It was a busy match from the off. Courtois punched from a cross which McLean nearly reached, whilst at the other end, Costa dragged a shot wide after escaping the defenders.

Morrison was in the thick of the action all game and nearly found Rondon’s outstretched leg from a cross. He had his own chance to score from a penalty just a minute later but Courtois’ leg saved the day. Chris Brunt, whom Morrison displaced from penalty taking duties for this one, would certainly have a stern work.

Then came Chelsea. Pedro and Hazard initiated a one-two and the former Barcelona man bundled the ball into the net past Myhill.

One became two, all from a West Brom corner. Willian counter, Pedro went for goal but Costa was in the right place at the right time to divert the off-target shot, to open his account for the season.

Cruise control only lasted six minutes as a Fabregas stray pass presented West Brom with possession, and when Ivanovic was caught, a long pass found Rondon, who got a foot to divert it to Morrison who made amends by rifling home.

Willian should have scored before the whistle blew as great build-up play by Pedro teed up the Brazilian, but he was far too casual and slotted wide the golden opportunity.

Azpilicueta made no mistake soon after though. Costa was pulled down as he tried to chest the ball for his own control, but kudos for Azpilicueta for reacting quickest to surprise everyone with his first Premier League goal.

Then came the big moment. Brunt’s pass found Rondon, who was dragged down by Terry. Fortunately for the captain it was outside the box, but it still warranted a red card.

3-1 became 3-2 very quickly after the sending off when Morrison directed a superb header past Courtois and in off the underside of the crossbar.

Lambert came on to push Chelsea and his partner Rondon, who had a great game, should have levelled from the edge of the box.

The physios on to treat Ivanovic soon after and there were cheers again as Chelsea were down to nine men again, a la in the Swansea game. Will the new pairing be sacked for next week?

McManaman curled wide and Costa skied high as Falcao and Mikel entered the fray of a busy game. Hazard dragged a shot wide, Falcao was slow to sort his feet out and Rondon’s shot needed a smothering from Courtois as the action was frantic right up until the full-time whistle, but when it did blow the relief from Mourinho was there for all to see.

What are your thoughts from the game? Leave your thoughts in the Comments section below!

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Man of the Match

pedro.thumbnailPEDRO: Superb debut. Chelsea needed an injection of an x-factor after a sluggish start but Pedro ticked all the boxes, scoring after 20 minute and assisting another. It was all about the three points today and you need players like Pedro to spark a side into life. Hazard and Costa too deserve mentions, as the stinkers for the week were Ivanovic and Fabregas. 8/10

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Manager Reaction

Mourinho was at his cryptic best: “I know many people are disappointed with this result — people love Chelsea to lose again. I’m so happy the players got what they deserve. Four points in three matches is not enough. The feeling is we are fighting against a lot. But today we won.”

Pulis was still finding the best way to bring his side forward: “We haven’t found the right balance yet between being comfortable and strong defensively, and still having that flair to go forward and score goals. Hopefully we’ll bring one or two more players in.”

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Post written by Martin Li. Martin has had four 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, 2011-2015. 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.

West Brom vs. Chelsea Preview

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


Firstly, the Eva Carneiro controversy, your take on it?

Totally unnecessary. Unfortunately it’s been a dreadful week for Chelsea, on and off the pitch. The Blues have never done fantastically on the PR front in terms of racism and sexism etc, and this has not helped. Mourinho’s words seemed innocuous enough – he criticised his “medical staff” – but the ensuing media furore, which predominantly surrounds Carneiro only and not Fearn, has meant the saga has gone into a battle about gender and how Mourinho had ulterior motives. This will not help relations and Mourinho will surely, deep down, be angry with himself for unknowingly causing this mess because it’s detracted Chelsea away from footballing matters. It is ironic that he blamed medical staff for being slow when reacting to Petr Cech’s head injury in 2005, and whilst there is some sense in that physios have to understand the game, first and foremost they have to do what is medically right. (Besides, Chelsea would have only been down to 9 men for around 30 seconds… Mourinho is clutching at straws!)

It’s not been the best of starts to the season for Chelsea, just a blip or something to be worried about?

Probably a bit in between. I can’t imagine it going on for too long, but it shows that this season will not be a canter. City are strong, United strengthened. It’s Chelsea’s worst start since 1998/99 but expect Mourinho to pull through. However, if things get messier behind the scenes with transfer rows or internal strains in relations and all of a sudden there’s a falling out with Abramovich, then there could be real, real danger.

Much has been made of the decision by Jose Mourinho to substitute his captain John Terry at half-time during last weekend’s defeat to Manchester City. Might this be the beginning of the end for the Blues’ legend?

I’m shocked at how much this has been talked about. Mourinho made the tactical decision to take off JT because he was getting pulled apart. I bet Mourinho was toying with the idea of playing Zouma from the off, as he has the pace, but felt Terry’s other attributes, e.g. reading of the game or leadership, will compensate. The reality is it didn’t and Sterling and co beat Terry for pace. Things had to change. But expect Terry to be back in the line-up and dominating; he’s not gone yet.

Looking back at last season, how did it compare to previous championship-winning campaigns?

Whilst Chelsea were good, last season was won mainly because rivals failed. Chelsea weren’t extraordinary – they were good because they were at the top of the table after every single match-day – but it relied heavily on City and United capitulating. We saw pretty football and then tactical football. In other championship-winning campaigns, it’s tended to be the more tactical.

How confident are you that Jose Mourinho’s men can retain their title?

Not very. We have not really strengthened – and in this world that means going backwards. The start we have had is not a good omen at all, and expect City to be fired up. It might be tight, but I’m not so confident as I was last season. There is no match-winner, all pretty stuff but all too careful.

Happy with the club’s summer transfer dealings? Anything more the Blues need to do before the window shuts?

No. Whereas last season we were quick with Costa and Fabregas, this season we have decided to do nothing. The imminent signing of Pedro smacks of panic, which is a disastrous way to manage the market. It was clear Abramovich was trying to save money for a new stadium, but recruits are needed. I’d personally quite like another defensive midfielder: Matic is our only competent one, as Mikel offers nothing and Ramires and Fabregas both have deficiencies to man this position with authority.

Prediction for Albion’s season?

Tony Pulis is a good manager and with the likes of Rondon and McLean in, I can probably expect another season of mid-table mediocrity, well clear of relegation.

Premier League champs?

Manchester City

Relegated?

Bournemouth, Sunderland, Watford

How are Chelsea likely to line-up at The Hawthorns on Sunday?

Courtois; Ivanovic, Cahill, Terry (c), Azpilicueta; Matic, Fabregas; Ramires, Hazard, Willian; Costa. If Pedro comes in time, I’d expect a substitute appearance from him and maybe Rahman.

Prediction for Sunday’s game?

Chelsea need to get going. Expect some fire: 3-1.

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Post written by Martin Li. Martin has had four 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, 2011-2015. 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.

West Bromwich Albion 3-0 Chelsea: Match Reaction

Match Summary

10-man Chelsea limped to a sorry defeat as the effort of West Brom was duly rewarded with three goals and all three points.

The Blues, who have not lost since January 1st, already have the title in the bag and it was evident motivation and hunger dropped a couple of gears as West Brom claim some bragging points against the new champions in what was a very comfortable victory for them.

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Mourinho promised youth some game-time but first first eleven was still as potent as ever, with only Loftus-Cheek the notable youth. Ake, Blackman, Christensen and Brown made the bench though, as Cech was conspicuous by his absence.

With this tie effectively a dead rubber, you would be forgiven if you thought it would be a lethargic, end-of-season dull affair. But you would be in for a nasty shock.

A slow start to the game was instantly brought to life with the game’s first goal, and what a stunner it was from Berahino. The striker did not even need to control Lescott’s ball and hit first-time from 20 yards. It was a delicious strike which evaded Courtois.

But the highlights would follow soon after. After a very patient first half an hour, things boiled over. Costa was involved in a typical scrap with McAuley, and whilst Mike Jones was deliberating over cards, Fabregas opted to non-chalantly kick the ball into the melee of players. Had it missed everyone, it would have not been a problem, but with it hitting Brunt on the face, Mike Jones deemed it violent conduct and the Spaniard was sent for an early bath.

West Brom has more opportunities as Loftus-Cheek caved under more responsibility owing to Fabregas’ departure, and it was left for Courtois to stop Brunt giving the hosts a second goal.

It was the first time this season Chelsea have gone into the break behind.

But it was about to get worse. John Terry, who has played every minute of every game so far and was pleading with Mourinho earlier in the week to let him continue his record for the final two matches of the season, may regret saying that because it was he who conceded an early second-half penalty. Berahino slotted home.

Remy then hit the base of the post with Myhill stranded but it was as close as Chelsea would come to salvaging any pride.

Brunt lashed home a third from a sneaky short corner as Courtois was caught cold.

Matic was denied from point-blank range from a corner as Myhill was in the right place at the right time.

The youth did come on in the end — Ake for Loftus-Cheek and Brown, an ex-Baggie, for Remy — but it was indicative of Mourinho forfeiting the game. I am sure he would have preferred to bring on the youth having secured a comfortable advantage in the game, but it was just not going to be Chelsea’s night.

The title has been secured anyway, as shown by Mourinho’s grand gestures as he thanked the away support at the end, who were chanting “top of the league” non-stop.

What are your thoughts from the game? Leave your thoughts in the Comments section below!

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Man of the Match

UntitledNO-ONE: Can someone give me my 90 minutes back? 0/10

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Manager Reaction

Mourinho recognised the different mentality: “I can’t take it from the context, and the context is we are champions, and the players lose concentration, they lose intensity, they lose motivation. Am I guilty [too]? Yes, but you can’t expect us to get on the bus crying because we lost 3-0, we are champions.”

Pulis had kind words to say about Chelsea: “They have been worthy champions though, a fantastic football club and for people to criticise them is unbelievable. They have been the best team by a country mile this season.”

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Post written by Martin Li. Martin has had four 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, 2011-2015. 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.

West Brom vs. Chelsea Preview

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


It’s been a fantastic season for the Blues, culminating of course with clinching the Premier League title. How does 2014/15 compare to your other recent title triumphs?

As title triumphs go, this can surely be one of the more satisfying. To have it wrapped up with a good number of games to spare, and then see us given a Guard of Honour by our nemesis Liverpool, it capped off a fantastic season in which we were brutally efficient. It feels a long time ago when we last won in 2010 and even though we secured it with a 8-0 thrashing of Wigan, it was done on the last matchday, so this one is sweet. It also rewards the hard work of the players and manager so we can be equally proud of this one as Mourinho’s first in his return. After no silverware last season, we can confirm he is still special: the knack of being unbeatable at home, never losing the six-pointer games against your main title rivals, getting the job done with the 1-0s or 2-1s… Jose knows best.

Despite Chelsea’s dominance of the Premier League, you failed to progress past the last 16 of the Champions League. What do the club need to do to improve on that next season?

Mourinho blamed his side’s “mental toughness” when PSG eliminated us, which was a most peculiar excuse, for his sides tend to exert the most mental toughness! Mourinho teams always tend to have a psychological edge but it was strange to see us not defend better some sloppy goals. It did help our march for the Premier League crown, granted, but the Champions League is now a bigger motivation for next season now there is less pressure of Premier League again. The quality is certainly there and maybe the players, a la Courtois and Hazard, need to really understand what the big Champions League games are like. Other than that, improvements could be made in Mourinho’s strategy. It is not safe anymore going back to a home second-leg with a goal-less score-line in the away first-leg. You need that away goal yourself.

It appears that former Albion academy star Izzy Brown will be making his Chelsea first team debut at The Hawthorns on Monday evening. Does he stand a genuine chance of becoming a regular for the Blues long-term?

In the foreseeable future: no. Mourinho has publicly said he wants to place more emphasis on young Chelsea stars but it is hard to see this as anything but good rhetoric. A rough patch next half-way through next season and we’ll be back to the siege mentality approach of parking the bus! Brown, and the other Chelsea prodigies in Baker/Bamford/Loftus-Cheek etc, may get the odd minutes of the odd game, but I cannot see Chelsea as a club to progress youth. There is too much pressure and too much competition to afford game-time to blood youngsters anymore.

Highlight of the season?

It’s difficult to pick one main one out! The League Cup final win against Tottenham stands out, of course, because we attained silverware at the end of it. The title triumph is equally satisfying, but this was a culmination of months of hard work, so there is no main highlight to pin-point it on. The fact that we have been top of the league after every single match-day is a staggering feat that even I forgot going week by week but hard work pays off and the highlights will no doubt occur in a couple of weeks’ time when we pick up the Premier League trophy and look back on a very successful season.

Moment you would rather forget?

PSG was our worst game of the season. The strategy was all wrong and you somehow never sat comfortably. Ibrahimovic’s sending off didn’t appease any nerves and you just had that feeling an away goal (or two) would do it.

Other than that, Lampard’s equaliser for Manchester City to deny his true side all three points will long haunt the memory. Whilst rendering irrelevant all-told, it was a dark moment for Chelsea fans. All can be forgiven now.

Player of the season?

John Terry and Eden Hazard, I cannot pick one, because both do opposite jobs and both were so vital for the club. Terry is Mourinho personified, the leader on the pitch and no doubt the first name on the team-sheet. It helps he lives and breathes Chelsea Football Club and this passion exudes in his play and his team-mates’ play. And then we have Eden Hazard, who has come to life this season. £32 million was an absolute steal and he looks a genuine gem of a boy, no ego, married with kids, and he dug his side out a lot with his goals, assists, and all-round creativity. Both cannot go unnoticed, so the fight for Chelsea Player of the Year will be interesting!

Villain of the season?

Not sure anyone really put a foot wrong consistently over the season, or has caused anyone troubles. I always feel players should fight for their position and not chicken out and leave and Andre Schurrle opted to take this easy route back home, but he was a very worthwhile player in the first half of our season.

What team and tactics are we likely to see from Chelsea on Monday?

With nothing to lose or gain for both sides, I expect a very different, inexperienced Chelsea side. I imagine Cech and Terry at the back will steal mean it is a very disciplined performance, and perhaps we will see some (youthful) naivety with the likes of Loftus-Cheek/Brown who should get some game-time. I can’t imagine a thrilling game; it is probably just going to turn out to be a professional training session.

Prediction for and thoughts on the game?

1-1. Can’t imagine Chelsea really going for it, and cannot imagine a clean sheet as we are really for the taking here, if Mourinho does put as much youth out as possible. But we have earned that right to.

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Post written by Martin Li. Martin has had four 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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