Chelsea vs West Bromwich Albion Match Preview
Chelsea are just one win away from the title as the victory at the Hawthorns on Friday would be enough to see Chelsea clinch their second Premier League title in three seasons, as West Bromwich Albion attempt to halt the leaders in their bid for silverware.
The west Londoners will seal the championship if they can muster a fourth win in succession and increase their lead to an insurmountable 10 points over Tottenham Hotspur.
Chelsea manager Antonio Conte has closed within inches of winning the league crown in his first season at Stamford Bridge, giving some indication of what’s to come for the Blues under his tutelage.
Having not so long ago held a reputation as difficult hosts to beat, West Brom have been weak at home of late, however, and are vulnerable after losing their last three games at the Hawthorns.
Antonio Conte spoke of his players making a “big step” against now-relegated Boro and is keen to wrap up the title, in his first season in English football, as soon as possible but warned “it won’t be easy” against Tony Pulis & Co.
If West Brom manage to keep a hold of eighth place, Tony Pulis will consider it job done and he will deserve all the praise that comes with equaling the club’s best-ever finish in the Premier League.
However, whatever happens between now and the end of the campaign, some will see it as a missed opportunity to make a bid for seventh with the team remaining in a lofty position – by their own standards – despite just two points and two goals from six games.
Pulis will play down that return, instead opting to focus on how they have performed over the course of the campaign, but the fact remains that they have not turned an excellent campaign into one which could have delivered European football.
All things considered, that is a minor blip but Pulis has a difficult task to lift his players for matches with Chelsea, Manchester City and Swansea City, who could all have something to play for when the fixtures take place over the course of the next 10 days.
West Brom simply cannot afford to sign off for the summer having gone nine matches without a win because such a run would likely see them give up a place in the top half of the table, one which they have held for months.
There would have been some relief after the 2-2 draw with Burnley, with Salomon Rondon scoring his first goal since the middle of December, but it is a result which they must build on if they are to be satisfied with a season which at one point promised that little bit more.
Ever since Conte decided to change his formation at the start of October, it has seemingly been a matter of time until Chelsea put themselves in a position to regain the Premier League title which they failed to defend last year and on Friday evening, they have the opportunity to see off rivals Tottenham Hotspur with two matches to spare.
While claiming the top-flight crown will be accepted in any circumstances, the ambitious Conte would feel a tinge of disappointment should his team not get the job done before the final day because aside from defeats to Spurs, Crystal Palace and Manchester United, they have been ruthless in a campaign otherwise littered with inconsistency from many of their nearest rivals.
Chelsea: Conte has declared that he has no injury worries ahead of the game, meaning that N’Golo Kante is likely to take his place in midfield after missing the 3-0 win over Middlesbrough.
David Luiz is also expected to start after being substituted during the closing stages of that match as he continues to cope with a knee problem.
West Bromwich Albion: Pulis revealed at his pre-match press conference that Matt Phillips would not be available to return, while a doubt remains over Hal Robson-Kanu.
However, there is positive news regarding the fitness of Jonny Evans, who is expected to feature in the starting lineup.
West Bromwich Albion possible starting lineup: Foster, Dawson, Evans, McAuley, Wilson, Yacob, Fletcher, Livermore, McClean, Brunt, Rondon
Chelsea possible starting lineup: Courtois, Azpilicueta, Luiz, Cahill, Moses, Kante, Fabregas, Alonso, Pedro, Hazard, Costa
Time: 00:30 IST (Saturday), 20:00 GMT.
Date: Friday, May 12.
TV Coverage: Sky Sports 1 (UK), Star Sports Select HD 1(India)
Online Stream: www.ronaldo7.net
Head to Head
- Total Matches Played:- 136
- Chelsea won:- 59
- West Brom Won:- 42
- Matches Drawn:- 35