Jose Mourinho maintained his unbeaten Premier League home record when West Brom were the visitors on Saturday, but only just. His side relied on a controversial late, late penalty (which was imperiously converted by Eden Hazard) to earn a point against a spirited and powerful Baggies side who battled bravely and almost got the rewards for a solid and well-organised display.
The Blues went in to the break 1-0 after a close range effort from Samuel Eto’o, but the visitors came out fighting in the second half with goals from Shane Long and Stephane Sessgnon in the 60th and 68th minutes. Although the Baggies’ goals represented two thirds of the total number of their shots on target, their performance was all about containment, which they did exceptionally well, with two lines of four which the home side appeared to find impenetrable at times.
Mourinho was getting increasingly frustrated on the touchline as his players failed to find the inventiveness required to weave their way through West Brom’s rearguard action, and the points looked to be going back to the West Midlands before referee Andre Mariner awarded a penalty in the fourth minute of injury time.
Clearly the Portuguese boss agreed with the decision and his former protégé Steve Clarke took the opposing view, but there was clearly contact between defender Steven Reid and Ramires. Whether that contact was sufficient to send the Brazilian sprawling, or indeed whether it even constituted a foul, is open to debate; but it was given, duly converted, and Chelsea’s blushes were saved.
The Baggies won at the Bridge exactly 30 years before this match (a 1-0 triumph in the League Cup), and they last won in the league there in 1978, but it wasn’t to be this time as the visiting players and manager felt robbed of what would have been a famous victory.
For Chelsea, an improvement is certainly called for if they are to challenge for the title. After just one point earned from their last two matches (after their 2-0 defeat at Newcastle prior to this one) there is the sense that Jose still doesn’t quite know his most effective side. The international break will give the Special One time to take stock and then it’s West Ham away on 23rd November – eminently winnable, but then so too looked Newcastle away and West Brom at home.