Curse those international breaks, this is what Chelsea manager Thomas Tuchel was probably thinking when the final whistle sounded at Stamford Bridge this past weekend. But this was a game that looked over and out at least 20 minutes before the end.
West Bromwich Albion defeating Chelsea away from home was something, a shock, a surprise on a certain level. It can happen. But scoring 5 goals, that simply was not expected and the result was easily up there with Aston Villa putting 7 goals past Liverpool earlier in the season. It was mammoth and it had Tuchel fuming and Baggies manager Sam Allardyce laughing and grinning like a Cheshire cat. It was a small beautiful moment in a season, which for West Brom has looked desperate and toothless.
It’s always a surprise when one third of the game has gone without goals and then there were 7 but that was almost the case with this match and the goals didn’t arrive until the 27th minute and it would be predictably the home team that would open the scoring through Christian Pulisic. Marcos Alonso produced a near brilliant free kick that the keeper could not take hold of and Pulisic was in the right place at the right time to tap in from only a few yards out.
It is worth mentioning by this time that Thiago Silva of Chelsea had already been booked for holding, because just two minutes later he received his second booking and was sent off for a challenge that had actually happened after the ball was struck. The challenge looked nasty and was two footed but one could also believe that there was no malice intended, it didn’t matter though and Chelsea were now down to 10 men.
Everything was to change in injury time of the first half, something quite spectacular indeed, and it is this unpredictable nature of the Premier League which probably makes it the best competition in Europe- barring the fact of course that Manchester City are running away with the league.
West Brom’s Sam Johnstone looping pass found an unmarked Matheus Pereira who then looped the ball past Edouard Mendy in goal and on the 45th minute +1 it was 1-1. Pereira wasn’t finished yet though. There was chaos in the Chelsea defence as West Brom came forward again and despite there being 3 defenders in front of Pereira his shot still went past them and into the back of the net. Suddenly West Brom were heading into the break 2-1 up.
True you could argue that Chelsea had had the better chances of the first half but West Brom had not come here to defend and park the bus like many would have expected, and they remained a constant threat and had chances of their own. Even still Chelsea remained the favourites to go on and win the game despite being reduced to 10 men. That myth was busted within 20 minutes of the 2nd half re start.
There would be no 2-2 score line and then the inevitable Chelsea come back, West Brom firstly went 3-1 up and then 4-1 up. It felt like madness on paper but in reality was grounded in hard work and a desire to win a game that nobody thought would be possible for Allardyce’s side.
Callum Robinson slotted in a beautiful third and when Mbaye Diagne soon after scored a fourth goal for the Baggies, this was suddenly looking very easy for the away side who are in 19th place.
West Brom did show some vulnerabilities at the back, and this is why they could get relegated this season to let in Chelsea for 2-4 when the Blues easily picked them off and the goal was finished by the impressive Mason Mount from just a few yards out. Suddenly a threat from the home side was there, this is a game that Chelsea could possibly draw. But it was the away side that needed these points.
But as the time went on Chelsea were not able to find the chances in the final third to create much danger and then Robinson scored his 2nd of the game, perhaps the finest of the encounter with a beautiful little dip beating the keeper for an incredible 5-2 victory.
Chelsea lost their first game in over 2 months and Tuchel has faced his first taste of defeat in the Premier League. The result is a blow to the Blues top 4 chances too and they saw West Ham pass them for 4th place and the likes of Liverpool and Tottenham have edged nearer.
As for West Brom, well Sam Allardyce has never been relegated with his teams and perhaps the great escape is on. It would indeed be the greatest given how West Brom are in 19th with 21 points and are 8 points from safety with just 24 left to play.
Let’s take a look at the latest betting odds for relegation in the Premier League.
Sheffield United 1/500
West Bromwich Albion 1/25
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