This match was one big opportunity for the Blues to steer clear from Arsenal and Man City and extend their lead to four points at the top of the Barclay’s Premier League table. But unexpectedly, the West London outfit underperformed and the result was a disappointing draw that gives rivals Arsenal and Manchester City the chance to leapfrog Chelsea to the top of the table.
Here are a few things we learned from this fixture.
Chelsea lacked a leader on the pitch
Terry’s leadership and organisational qualities were conspicuous with their absence. Petr Cech struggled to organize his team and absorb pressure on a day that saw the underdogs mount loads of pressure on a star-studded Chelsea line-up.
The first choice goalie cum third choice skipper also had an altercation with Branislav Ivanovic in the last 20 minutes of the game during which the Blues’ midfield was struggling to hold on to possession.
Terry was also missed as a central defender as David Luiz was not consistent and his error led to the late West Brom equaliser.
Chelsea were caught in their weakest moment
Despite the big absence of the influential John Terry, the Blues were somehow holding on to their lead despite being unconvincing.
There was just one incident that led to Gary Cahill getting a knock and being treated following which he came on immediately, however with a limp. Chelsea were out of shape after being momentarily down to 10 men and this is when West Brom launched their most productive attack.
Cahill was still trying out when Berahino received the ball, leading to a chaotic back four formation with Ivanovic in centre back position covering for Cahill and in the process exposing the right flank to the young Berahino. Ivanovic rushed back to stop the cross unsuccessfully while Cahill was helpless and David Luiz defended weakly against a rising Anichebe who headed home the all-important equaliser.
The team was leggy and tired from a strenuous week of football
The final 20 minutes of the second half saw Chelsea attackers being ineffective because of fatigue as they have been starting most of the matches recently.
Hazard and Oscar were clearly draining out of energy in the final stages as they could not hold on to possession whereas Mourinho was forced to make a somewhat negative change by bringing on John Obi Mikel and shut down shop.
We should not underestimate bottom half opponents
Chelsea pretty much gives unconvincing performances against lesser teams while performing well against the stronger ones. This has been one major telling factor this season.
The defending has improved and counter-attacking style suits perfectly to the pacy Blues but against teams that don’t commit men forward, Chelsea fails to dominate in the opponent’s final third resulting in frustrating moments.
This is generally the case of leaving it too late. The first 25 minutes of the game are the most important of all in these types of games as the major players being fully fresh can kill off the game as soon as possible while offering the substitute players a chance to have some game-time.
Shutting up shop with a 1-0 lead against a team that is in the relegation zone is a big mistake.