Thirteen days have passed since the Blues secured the Premiership, and there’s no doubt that the West Londoners have consistently looked a class above their opponents in the league.
Tony Pulis has confirmed that a guard of honour will be given to Chelsea at the Hawthorns to pay respect to the champions.
— West Bromwich Albion (@WBAFCofficial) May 15, 2015
Nonetheless, Jose Mourinho will not allow his squad to remain in a celebratory mood in the final two games, with the Portuguese manager eying the 90-point mark for the third time at Stamford Bridge. The Premier League champions will be entertained by West Bromwich Albion at the Hawthorns for the Baggies’ final home game of the season. Two in-form teams will go head to head in what could be an entertaining battle. Let us now analyze our opponents in our opposition scouting report:
West Bromwich Albion F.C. were founded in 1878. The West Midlands club have been champions of England on one occasion, winning the title in 1919-1920. The Baggies have also won the FA Cup five times with their last one coming in 1968. They have spent the majority of their history playing top flight football, their longest spell outside the top tier was between 1986 and 2002.
For the fifth consecutive season, West Brom have managed to secure their Premier League status. They edged towards the bottom three in the opening months of the season but were steered to safety by Tony Pulis, who was brought in to replace Alan Irvine. The Baggies are currently on a four-match unbeaten run after their slip against Leicester City. Currently placed 13th on the Premier League table, West Brom reached the 40-point mark after defeating an in-form Manchester United at Old Trafford. Last 5 Premier League matches: L-W-D-W-D
The Baggies have had several injuries in recent weeks but have an almost fit squad to face Chelsea. Boaz Myhill will man the posts as goalkeeper Ben Foster remains absent for Monday’s clash after suffering a knee injury. Saido Berahino might be benched after Anichebe’s performance upfront last weekend. Callum McManaman has fully recovered from his foot injury and will remain an option for manager Tony Pulis.
— West Bromwich Albion (@WBAFCofficial) May 15, 2015
Tony Pulis will go with his successful 4-4-2 formation against the Blues. It is a formation that has yielded desired results against the likes of Manchester United, Liverpool and most recently Newcastle United. Berahino and Anichebe will start upfront joined by wingers Gardner and Morrison. Fletcher and Yacob will marshal the midfield, keeping tabs on Chelsea’s playmaker Cesc Fabregas. The defense will see Dawson and Lescott on their respective flanks with McAuley and Olsson in central defense, making sure Hazard and company have a tough day in the office.
Key Player – Claudio Yacob
Only Chelsea have kept more clean sheets (17) than West Brom (15), and they have the Argentine to thank. Although Yacob has played only 18 games this season, he has helped the Baggies with his tigerish display in each of those games. He might not be the glamorous one on the field but is ready to help out his team in every game. The Baggies have lost just four games when the 27-year-old has started, making him a must-have defensive midfielder. Yacob will have the tough task of containing Chelsea’s Cesc Fabregas, who is eyeing to break Thierry Henry’s 12-year old assist record.
West Brom might boast the second best clean sheet, but have a terrible record defending set-pieces. The have conceded a league-high 20 goals from set-pieces this season, including 7 penalties. The Baggies are up against a side who are magnificent during set-pieces. The Blues have scored 18 goals from set-pieces this season. They also suffer a great blow with their in-form goalkeeper Ben Foster out with injury. With the presence of Terry, Cahill, Matic and Ivanovic in the box, the Baggies will have to improve on defending set-pieces if they were to salvage anything off the champions.
Head to Head
The two sides have faced each other on 101 occasions. Chelsea have won 44 matches and the Baggies have been victorious 32 times. On 25 occasions, the two sides have settled for a draw.
- West Brom are unbeaten in their last three Premier League games at home to Chelsea (W2 D1), after losing each of the first five against the Blues at the Hawthorns.
- Chelsea have scored as many goals in the opening 15 minutes of matches this campaign as West Brom have netted in the entire first half (15).
- Chelsea have won five and drawn two of their seven PL matches against WBA under Jose Mourinho.
- The Blues have gone 16 games unbeaten (W11 D5); the longest run in the division this season.
According to the Baggies’ manager Toni Pulis, Jose Mourinho has cemented his place as one of the all-time great managers. He said:
“There is an elitist group in any league in the world, but there still has to be a winner from among them, and Jose ends up being the winner. He’s proved to be very special in all that he’s done.”
Jose Mourinho will look to give Chelsea’s academy graduates a chance while Toni Pulis will hope that his side can upset the champions at the Hawthorns. West Bromwich Albion might be in good form at the moment, but the gap in quality will make it difficult for the Baggies to defeat this Chelsea side. The Blues have possessed a great amount of flair and finesse throughout this season and will look to end the season in style.
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Edited By: Vikram Vadiganeni
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