Chelsea’s penultimate game of the season ended in disaster as they were heavily beaten by West Brom at the Hawthorns. A double from Saido Berahino and a goal from Chris Brunt gave the Baggies the win, in a match which saw Cesc Fabregas sent off. This result has no bearing on the club’s season, but it was still a disappointing performance for the traveling fans.
The result suggests that this was a very weakened Chelsea side, but in fact Mourinho named a strong team and even had Diego Costa on the pitch. The Spaniard returned up front after a long absence, and he played alongside Loic Remy. Ruben Loftus-Cheek was handed another start, this time alongside Nemanja Matic in central midfield. Filipe Luis starting at left back was the only change to the usual back five, so this was the bulk of the starting XI.
It did take something special to beat Thibaut Courtois first time around, as Berahino scored a fantastic goal from outside the box. He buried a shot from 20 yards to give the hosts the lead inside 10 minutes, as the game took on an intensity that few expected before kick-off.
The return of Diego Costa certainly added to that, as he was as aggressive as ever against the hosts’ defence. His clash with Gareth McAuley led to a ridiculous chain of events that saw the visitors go down to 10 men. Their off the ball grappling led to a mass pile up involving most of the players. Fabregas wasn’t involved, and after going to argue with the linesman, he kicked the ball towards the crowd of players, hitting Brunt in the face. This heightened the intensity of the game further, and the referee sent the Spaniard off.
That made things very difficult for Chelsea, as they went into the break a goal and a man down. West Brom had little to play for, but they pushed ahead anyway looking to take a big scalp. The Blues had lost just twice this season, but they were pushed closer to a third defeat right at the start of the second half, when West Brom were awarded a penalty.
John Terry pulled down Berahino as he tried to run on to a pass from Brunt. The young forward then stepped up and scored the spot-kick to double the lead. That gave the Blues a huge task to get anything out of the game, and the points were wrapped up for WBA as Brunt’s fierce shot beat Courtois at his near post.
That result left the champions winless in four games at the Hawthorns. It doesn’t have any bearing on the season, and the side can be forgiven for slipping in their last few games after an excellent campaign. They will be looking for an improvement this weekend, as they host Sunderland before finally lifting the Premier League trophy.
LCN Man of the Match: Diego Costa