Having won 8 games on the bounce, many fans would have expected Chelsea to whip West Brom without mercy, but it wasn’t to be, as the Baggies locked up shop.
A closer look at Tony Pulis’ setup for the game, and you’ll observe that the Baggies played with 6 men at the back — 2 full-backs and 4 centre-backs. Chelsea ended the first half with 72% possession, but no attempt on target, and it would surprise you to know that upon all our spells on the ball, only 5 Chelsea touches were made in the West Brom box 18 in the first half.
After a difficult first-half against a Tony Pulis side set up to frustrate Chelsea, it was clear that today’s game wasn’t going to be business as usual. Bearing in mind that Arsenal were top of the table, and a win for Chelsea will extend the gap between Chelsea and Manchester City to 7 points, a win over West Brom was non-negotiable.
The second-half started in similar fashion as the first, and even a tactical switch by Antonio Conte in the second-half wasn’t enough for Chelsea to find a way against the stubborn Baggies defence. But a moment of power, strength, determination and pace from Diego Costa packed with an audacious shot into the top left corner was enough for Chelsea to extend their winning streak to nine games and return back to the top of the table.
Today’s game lacked flair, it lacked chances and it was very difficult, but the Blues showed champion’s mentality to win the game against all odds, and that 3 points is one of the most valuable we’ve gotten.
We are top of the table after being in 2nd spot for close to 24 hours. Cheers to the Blues family!