Chelsea are looking to finally get their season up and running when they travel to West Brom this weekend. After a poor performance and heavy defeat at Manchester City, the Blues really need a response this weekend. They head to West Brom, not normally a good hunting ground for them, targeting a morale-boosting win.
It’s hard to find positives in the defeat at the Etihad last week. Jose Mourinho claimed that his side were the better team in the second half, but it’s doubtful he really believes that. Chelsea were outclassed throughout the game, while still gifting their rivals chances through silly defensive mistakes. There’s a lot to put right this weekend, but can they do it?
If they are to get a win here, they’ll have to do it without Oscar, as the injury that kept him out last week is apparently still affecting him. It’s likely Ramires will continue to play in his place. Thibaut Courtois will return in goal for Asmir Begovic, while John Terry is set to start, despite his half time withdrawal against City. New signing Abdul Baba Rahman is in contention to start, after sealing his move to the club on Sunday; given Branislav Ivanovic’s recent form, that might well be needed.
Recently, the Blues haven’t enjoyed the Hawthorns. They’ve not won in their last four visits there, and most recently they lost 3-0 there shortly after winning the title. It’s not a place that Mourinho would pick when in need of points, like he is now. Winning here for the first time since 2011 is a huge task, but beating West Brom shouldn’t be that big of a problem for the manager.
WBA lost their opener at home to Man City, and they couldn’t get close to the likes of David Silva. The Baggies were wide open that day, so expect them to use a much more reserved approach here. They’ll be looking to shut down space for the Blues, employing similar tactics to those used so well by Mourinho over the years.
It should give Chelsea a little more time to settle into this game, which is something they’ve not really had yet. The team clearly isn’t match fit yet, so starting off a game by chasing it isn’t a position they really want to be in. This should be a tight, edgy encounter, something that in which Mourinho will thrive.
It wouldn’t be a surprise to see the manager going back to basics here, taking his side back to the approach he had early on in each of his two spells. They played tight, looking not to concede, wore teams down and scored a goal or two to kill it off. Going back to that style would surely help improve things, and may just deliver a much needed victory for the champions.
LCN Verdict: Chelsea to win 1-0