Chelsea will travel to the Hawthorns knowing that a win and 3 points will see them lift a second league title in three years and the first under Antonio Conte in his managerial debut in England.
West Bromwich Albion are one of those clubs positioned comfortably in mid-table with nothing to play for in the remaining games. If anything, that suggests how good Tony Pulis and the midlands club have been in the season – punching well above their weight to finish above sides that have a stronger financial clout.
The Baggies are understandably going through a rough patch – with no wins in the last six in a run that has seen four consecutive defeats. But knowing they could put a stopper on any title celebrations on Friday in front of their own fans, they will be expected to make it very hard for the champions-elect to break them down, by reverting to type.
For Chelsea, it has been a near-perfect campaign in the Premier League. Since the defeat to Arsenal at the Emirates and the change of formation at half-time, the Blues have never really looked back and been firmly in control of the title race. In a run that entailed an incredible 13-game winning streak, Chelsea established themselves as strong favorites and also managed to live up to the tag thus far, never really allowing a slip-up.
The Blues have been unbeaten in 26 of the last 29 games but their recent record at the Hawthorns should be a cause for concern going into this game – with only 1 win in the last five trips to the midlands. But 3 points will see them crowned as Champions and the players do not need any more motivation than that.
No fresh injury concern for Pulis’ West Bromwich Albion ahead of the visit of Chelsea. Midfielder Matt Philips is nursing an injury while former Man United center-half Jonny Evans will require an assessment prior to the game after sustaining an injury in their 2-2 draw with Burnley.
Meanwhile, Chelsea have a full squad available to them while PFA Writers’ Player of the Year N’Golo Kante is doubtful to feature. Willian could return to the starting XI if the Italian decided to rotate his squad.
West Brom have been losing at both half time and full-time in their last 3 home matches (Premier League)
Chelsea have scored at least 3 goals in their last 3 matches (Premier League).
Should Chelsea win this match, they’ll have won 42 points away from home in the Premier League this season (the most) and it’ll be the highest tally of away points by a side in a PL season since Manchester United won 42 in 2011-12.
The Baggies have only scored a goal in two of their last nine Premier League fixtures, failing to score at all in their other seven matches since the start of March.
Darren Fletcher (West Bromwich Albion)
The 33-year old midfielder has been the engine patrolling that midfield for Pulis’ side in arguably their best campaign in the Premier League era (6 shy of their record points tally of 49). The ex-Man United midfielder is industrious with a good passing range – long and short and experienced – everything the home side will need to fend off the best side in the country on the cusp of winning the league. Having done it a fair few times himself, Fletcher will be wary of the mentality of Chelsea and will hence be key to Friday night’s decisive clash.
Diego Costa (Chelsea)
The Spanish center-forward may be leaving the London club at the end of the window – but few could argue with his time at Chelsea – firing the side to two titles in three years, scoring in almost every big game they have played in the said period. He is hitting some form at the right time as always, involving in four goals (3 goals + an assist) in the last three games and will be the ideal center-forward to navigate a physical side like West Bromwich Albion.
Costa has been crucial to Chelsea in the last three seasons, but there is no better time for him to remind that than on Friday – by potentially scoring the goal that would win them the Premier League title.
Champagne at the ready.
West Bromwich Albion 0-2 Chelsea