On Saturday Conte takes his Blues’ side back to the ground where they won the Premier League title just six months ago. Plenty has changed for the Blues since that dramatic victory at the Hawthorns, which wrapped up a fantastic debut season in English football for the Italian manager. Things aren’t going quite as well this time around, as they trail leaders Manchester City, with United and Tottenham between them and top spot. Retaining the title is going to be a tall order for the Blues, and it’ll be even more difficult if they can’t at least repeat their 1-0 victory here in May.
The international break came at the worst time for Chelsea, as there’s been a two week break between their win over United and this clash with West Brom. That result was a huge boost for Conte and his side, before they all departed with their national sides. Can they pick up where they left off when they travel to the Hawthorns on Saturday? The champions need to build on that last victory, especially with the race for the Champions League spots heating up.
Team News: Can Luiz Make a Return?
Antonio Conte’s biggest move last time out was to drop David Luiz from the side, claiming after that he’d finally picked his first choice trio in central defence. He claimed it was a tactical move, but reports of a clash between the manager and the Brazilian defender suggests he’s likely to miss out here. The Blues boss did welcome back N’Golo Kante for the United game, which saw him switch to a 3-5-2 formation. He’s likely to return to the 3-4-3 set-up for this weekend’s match, which should see Pedro step back into the team. Danny Drinkwater – who turned down an England call up due to fitness concerns – isn’t likely to make the starting line-up here.
James Morrison and Craig Dawson are both missing out for the Baggies ahead of this clash. Tony Pulis may make big changes as he desperately tries to end their awful slump in form, which makes it hard to call his starting line-up this weekend. However, he has been utilising a three-man defence of late, and we expect the Welshman to stick with that approach in order to match up with Conte’s tactics. They have named Jay Rodriguez and Salomon Rondon up front in recent weeks, and they should lead the way in a 3-5-2 formation.
West Brom Form
The Baggies are going through a real rough patch ahead of the visit of the champions. They’ve hit nine matches without a win, after taking six points from their opening two Premier League matches of the season. That’s a pretty big tail off, and it’s left many fans calling for Pulis to get the sack. When you play results football and fail to get results, you can’t really expect much else.
A 1-0 loss to Huddersfield last time out has left them a point above the drop zone, leaving West Brom in trouble. The Baggies have to be concerned by their recent form, especially losing out to newly promoted sides. Having managed to win one and lose 13 of their last 16 meetings with the top seven, it’s difficult to hold out much hope for the hosts ahead of this clash.
West Brom v Chelsea Head to Head
It’s hard to not think about Chelsea’s latest title triumph when you consider their recent encounters with the Baggies. The Blues picked up two 1-0 wins over West Brom last term, both vital in their push for the trophy. The first came via a late Diego Costa winner, and the second was an even more dramatic victory via Michy Batshuayi’s title winning goal.
- West Brom 0-1 Chelsea, May 2017
- Chelsea 1-0 West Brom, Dec 2016
- Chelsea 2-2 West Brom, Jan 2016
- West Brom 2-3 Chelsea, Aug 2015
- West Brom 3-0 Chelsea, May 2015
- Morata to score any time – evens with BetVictor
- Chelsea to win 1-0 – 13/2 with Bet365
Chelsea come into this clash as 4/7 favourites with Coral to claim the three points. The Baggies may have failed to win any of their last nine league outings, but they can be backed at 5/1 with Betfred to win on Saturday. Meanwhile, the draw is priced up at 27/10 with Ladbrokes, which might tempt some.
The champions aren’t bad value considering the form of these two going in, but we believe you can find some better value on this game. The champions are worth backing for the points, but having looked at the stats and the form of each we believe we have some better options when it comes to pro-Chelsea bets on Saturday.
One thing that has to worry Tony Pulis is that his side just aren’t doing the things they tend to specialise in. The Baggies are a side who keep clean sheets, are hard to beat and tend to dominate in the air. Usually that wouldn’t be a good match for Blues’ forward Alvaro Morata, but this season is a different story.
This season West Brom have been poor at the back, conceding their fair share of headers. That’s not a huge surprise, given that no team has won fewer aerial duels than the Baggies this term. Morata has scored the majority of his goals in the air, so we’re backing him to score any time against West Brom. He’s priced at evens with BetVictor to score any time on Saturday.
West Brom come into this game having lost their last three games by a single goal. Having gone down 1-0 home and away to Chelsea last season, we can see the Baggies making things difficult for the Blues here. We’re backing another 1-0 win for the champions at the Hawthorns, which is great value at 13/2 with Bet365.