On February 11th, Chelsea will travel to the Hawthorns to take on West Bromich Albion. Both teams will be desperate for the three points here but for totally different reasons. After dropping into the relegation zone for the first time since match day four, West Brom will be looking to get the maximum points to pull themselves back out of the bottom three. Chelsea are top of the league but only by a point and will want all three points to ensure that they stay top. After a controversial ending to the last meeting between these teams, West Brom will want to make up for the two points they feel Andre Mariner cost them in the last meeting. On the flip side, Chelsea will want to justify that, not only did they deserve the point they got but that, they are the better team with a victory this time around.
Both teams will be going into this game relatively healthy for this stage of the season. Both Fernando Torres and John Terry are questionable to make returns from injury. The only other injury problem for Chelsea is Marco Van Ginkel who is still missing after suffering a torn ACL early in the season. West Brom will surely be without Stephen Sessegnon while Nicolas Anelka and Jonas Olsson are both doubts for the game.
The last two times these two teams have met at the Hawthorns West Brom came out victorious both times. West Brom have drawn more games than any other team in the Premier League and fewer draws than any other team in the bottom half. That said, West Brom also have fewer wins than any other team in the league. Chelsea have the league’s best defense, conceding only 20 goals.
Chelsea’s main man this season has been Eden Hazard and, when he is in the kind of form he is in now, he is the key man in every game he plays. Hazard is coming off of a hat trick against Newcastle and is on fire for Chelsea. Hazard is Chelsea’s top goal scorer and Chelsea’s top creator this season with 12 goals and five assists. Hazard has created a chance every 34 minutes and a clear cut chance every 300 minutes. Hazard’s 31% chance conversion rate is not only the best at Chelsea but joint second best in the league, of players with at least 20 shots. Hazard has the talent to turn a game on it’s head with just a moment of sheer quality. He will try to produce some of those moments against West Brom and help bag Chelsea all three points.
For West Brom to get anything against Chelsea they will need to stay solid defensively and Claudio Yacob will be a big part of that. Yacob and Yossuf Mulumbu form a very strong axis protecting the West Brom back four. They are both very good at winning possession back and then picking the right pass to send the team forward. Yacob wins possession back every 12 minutes and loses possession only every 12 minutes. Yacob also completes 87% of his passes with 33% of those passes going forward. Chelsea’s midfield is very powerful as well as very skilled meaning Yacob and Mulumbu will have to play very well to win the midfield battle. If they can win the midfield battle, West Brom stand a decent chance of getting something from this game.
If recent history is any indication, West Brom will be a tough test for Chelsea to get through. West Brom have done well against the bigger teams at home this season grabbing draws off of Liverpool, Arsenal, and Everton. Chelsea’s road record has not been spectacular this season but they should see off teams like West Brom. Chelsea will go into this game as favorites and I think they will just scrape this.