Match Report

Match Report: Chelsea 2 West Brom 5

Thomas Tuchel’s club-record 14-game unbeaten start at Chelsea came to an end when his side suffered a shock home defeat against relegation-threatened opponents.

The Blues played most of the game with 10 men after a first-half sending off and Sam Allardyce’s side made the most of that advantage, going 4-1 up before we pulled a goal back, and then scoring again in added time at the end.

Premier League football returned after the international break with this lunchtime kick-off and it was a game of high drama. Chelsea took the lead through Christian Pulisic but then lost Thiago Silva to a second yellow card, and then lost two goals in stoppage time before the interval, both scored by Matheus Pereira, the first goals conceded at home under Tuchel.

All was looking good after Pulisic pounced on 27 minutes when a Marcos Alonso dead-ball strike hit the post and our opponents were disrupted by injuries, losing two defenders before the break, including Chelsea legend Branislav Ivanovic who had begun the game on the bench.

But having lost a man ourselves to the red card, our backline was caught napping badly for the equaliser and West Brom were in the ascendant after that.

Callum Robinson and Mbaye Diagne added to their lead in second half and as the chances continued to follow at both ends in this open game, substitute Mason Mount cut the deficit to 4-2, but although we had come back from 3-0 down to draw in the away fixture against the Baggies this season, today no such fight-back was achieved.

Instead it was substitute Robinson who scored again to complete their 5-2 win. All five of his Premier League goals have been against Chelsea.
 

The selection

With Thiago Silva back at his disposal, Thomas Tuchel wasted no time in putting the Brazilian back at the heart of the defence. Kurt Zouma was also selected so regular members of the central defence recently, Andreas Christensen and Toni Rudiger, were on the bench, as were Mason Mount and Kai Havertz with Hakim Ziyech and Christian Pulisic asked to support Timo Werner in attack.

Marcos Alonso and Reece James were today’s wing-backs and with N’Golo Kante out injured, Jorginho and Mateo Kovacic were paired in the centre of the park.

Blues net first

Chelsea were aiming for 16 games unbeaten and to put pressure on the other challengers for a top-four place as this game opened the weekend’s round of Premier League fixtures.

Back in the side after two months out, Thiago Silva picked up his first booking just five minutes into this encounter for pulling back Pereira on the edge of the penalty area. The free-kick that followed released Chelsea on our first counter-attack of the game, but Ziyech failed in his attempt to release the pace of Werner.

Alonso, though tightly marked, still managed to work Sam Johnstone in the Baggies goal on 12 minutes, and James aimed for Werner at the near post with a cross soon after but the German could not get his boot to the ball.
 

It was, however, a reasonable start by the Blues, and Diagne was West Brom’s first booking for catching Cesar Azpilicueta with his arm.

Having just been unsuccessful in picking out Pulisic as Chelsea moved the ball quickly, Ziyech did play a pass right into the danger zone and Alonso, challenging his marker hard, almost made something happen in front of goal. Chelsea were moving through the gears now and Mateo Kovacic saw an effort deflected wide.

There followed an early enforced change for West Brom. Defender Dara O’Shea had been hurt in a challenge and having failed to run it off, he came off with a major name in Chelsea history his replacement – Branislav Ivanovic joining the action with just 24 minutes played.

However the Serbian’s return to Stamford Bridge would only last 12 minutes as he strained a hamstring when challenging Werner and had to be replaced, but in the short time he was on the pitch there were two moments of major drama.

The first was Chelsea taking the lead. The goal came from a free-kick in a central area 25 yards out, struck sweetly by Marcos Alonso but as it curled away from the keeper, it hit the post. Happily, Pulisic was following up and found the net from seven yards out.


Thiago in trouble

Just two minutes later, the Blues were down to 10 men when Thiago Silva was shown his second yellow card. The Brazilian’s offence was following through and catching Okay Yokuslu as he attempted to block a shot. It was Chelsea’s second sending off this season, the first way back in our first home game when Andreas Christensen was dismissed.

It was the Dane who was brought on to restore defensive numbers today, and before the match Tuchel had indicated Christensen would be on before the end as Thiago Silva would not finish the game – but he cannot foreseen it would be like this!

For the start of this match, West Brom had switched from the four-man defence of their previous game to a back-three, but since their injuries they were now playing a four again.

Initially, Chelsea did not look like the side playing a man down, as Johnstone saved twice from James and Zouma headed a corner wide, but in the dying moments of the first half, West Brom turned their deficit into a lead.

The equaliser came from a straightforward clearance down the middle by Johnstone but Pereira had been left unmarked and lifted the ball over the unprotected Mendy.

Matt Phillips then curled a shot onto the Blues crossbar but that was only a temporary reprieve as on the stroke of half-time, after the visitors worked the ball across our penalty area, Pereira slotted it inside the near post. 2-1 to West Brom at the interval.

Second-half struggles

Mason Mount replaced Pulisic for the second half, and early on during it, Alonso hit the woodwork for the second time in the game after Johnstone made a mess of a ball skied high by James.

An equaliser was looking possible and Kovacic for the second time in the game saw a shot deflected wide and Zouma headed a corner off target, but we were thankful to Mendy for preventing a Pereira hat-trick.

The Baggies did go 3-1 up just past the hour and this time there was nothing Mendy could do about it as Robinson continued to be a thorn in our side when he sweetly volleyed home a Darnell Furlong cross.

Five minutes later, Mbaye Diagne made it Chelsea 1 West Brom 4 when he finished a swift move by the West Midlanders The deficit was cut again in the blink of an eye when Werner squared for Mount to score from close range, and Zouma missed a great chance to put real pressure on the visitors when he missed at the far post.

Instead it was Robinson who found the net at the other end in stoppage time to ensure West Brom’s comfortable win.


What's next?

From Stamford Bridge to Seville, and the first leg of our Champions League quarter-final against Porto, with what is techincally an away game being played in Portugal due to Covid restrictions. The match is on Wednesday with an 8pm kick-off (UK time).


Chelsea (3-4-2-1): Mendy; Azpilicueta (c), Thiago Silva, Zouma; James, Jorginho (Havertz 73), Kovacic, Alonso; Ziyech (Christensen 33), Pulisic (Mount h-t); Werner.
Unused subs Kepa, Rudiger, Chilwell, Gilmour, Hudson-Odoi, Giroud.
Scorers Pulisic 27, Mount 71
Sent off 
Thiago Silva 29
Booked
Thiago Silva 5, Kovacic 66

West Bromwich (3-5-2): Johnstone; O’Shea (Ivanovic 24) (Robinson 36), Bartley (c), Ajayi; Furlong, Phillips (Livermore 89), Yokuslu, Maitland-Niles, Townsend; Pereira, Diagne.
Unused subs Button, Peltier, Diangana, Snodgrass, Robson-Kanu, Grant.
Scorers Pereira 45+2, 45+4, Robinson 63, 90+1, Diagne 68
Booked
Diagne 14

Referee David Coote

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