The Premier League will resume this weekend – with Champions Chelsea making the trip to the Hawthorns to take on a struggling West Bromwich Albion, to build on their newly found momentum.
West Bromwich Albion are stuck in a rut under Tony Pulis, a manager everyone associated with the Baggies thought would be gone by the end of the International break in November. But it was not to be. The manager still remains at the helm – but only just. Albion are win-less in 10 games now – their most recent victory in all competitions coming in late August. The Midlands club go into this game with three defeats on the bounce and it is not looking pretty ahead of Saturday – with the visitors picking up form after a slow start.
With more important and winnable fixtures on the horizon, Pulis is expected to go for an ultra-conservative approach in a bid to salvage a point which should make for a less interesting encounter.
For Chelsea, this is another opportunity to capitalise on – when two of the top six play each other. The Blues have bounced back after two losses on the trot to go on a three game winning run – including a fine result against Mourinho’s Manchester United under considerable pressure. Antonio Conte has had his fair share of issues with the Chelsea hierarchy, but it may all be a thing of the past at Chelsea look to be growing in strength. Chelsea’s away form has been impressive and they will travel to the Hawthorns with 6 wins out of 7 Premier League games on the road.
It remains to be seen whether they will defend their title, but signs are sprouting up at last, to see why they could not be ruled out just yet.
Pulis is expected to make a number of changes to his starting lineup, with Matt Phillips, James McClean and Salomon Rondon in contention for a recall. Midfielder Jake Livermore should keep his place in the team, despite playing all but four minutes of England’s games with Germany and Brazil.
Victor Moses should miss out on the game nursing a hamstring injury, while David Luiz is expected to have to settle for a place among the replacements after his falling out with his manager. Gary Cahill should be fit to play despite missing out against Brazil in midweek after declaring himself available for selection.
- This will be Antonio Conte’s 50th PL match as Chelsea head coach and the Italian’s side have won more points (115) than any other since the start of last season.
- West Bromwich Albion have lost all 11 of their previous Premier League home matches against reigning champions, with an aggregate score of 8-28.
Grzegorz Krychowiak – West Bromwich Albion
Krychowiak, the former PSG and Sevilla midfielder has been one of the best players at the Hawthorns – a combative midfielder – who is never shy of going toe to toe, from a physical standpoint. Such a player is always going to be an asset for a Tony Pulis side who are used to absorbing the pressure and defending deep, before going long. He’s managing 2.4 tackles and 3 interceptions per game in the Premier League making him the most important player for West Bromwich by some distance and will key to stopping a strong Chelsea attack.
Alvaro Morata – Chelsea
For all the doubts as to whether the Spaniard could hit the ground running right away, Morata has silenced them all one by one. The former Real Madrid forward has already contributed to 10 goals in 9 starts (7 goals; 3 assists) in the Premier League showing his worth for his new club. His most significant goal however in the clash against Manchester United – a side he was very close to joining going by the rumours, may have been the turning point in his and Chelsea’s season which, all of a sudden – looks promising and positive.
His ability in the air has not gone unnoticed and will be crucial in getting the Blues over the line to secure another hugely vital 3 points in their pursuit to defend the title.
Chelsea to pile more misery on Tony Pulis by chugging away with another narrow victory.
West Bromwich Albion 0-1 Chelsea
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