Chelsea go into the weekend three points clear at the top of the Premier League and will be hoping for a ninth successive league victory when the host West Brom on Sunday afternoon.
Antonio Conte’s side have flourished since converting to a 3-4-3 formation and appear to have found the perfect balance between defence and attack, scoring 22 goals in their last eight league fixtures and keeping six clean sheets in the process. Their victory at the Etihad Stadium in their previous game was a master class in compact defending and swift, devastating counter attacking football and the 3-1 score definitively underlined their title credentials.
West Brom have gone unnoticed under the radar so far this campaign, but Tony Pulis has certainly got them heading in the right direction. The Baggies currently sit seventh in the Premier League and have accumulated twenty points in fourteen games. They are currently on a four game unbeaten run but tend not to pick up many points on the road, especially against the traditional ‘big’ clubs but they will offer a stern defensive test for Chelsea’s offensive talents.
Chelsea have hit a real purple patch of form over the last two months and have put together a winning run of eight successive Premier League games, culminating in victory over title rivals Manchester City last weekend. In their last four matches at Stamford Bridge The Blues have scored fourteen goals and conceded just once, including a five-goal win over Everton and a four-goal success against Manchester United. Chelsea have beaten West Brom seven times in their last twelve fixtures, losing just twice, and have not lost a home contest against The Baggies in the Premier League era.
West Brom continue to impress under the guidance of Tony Pulis and the Welshman has led his side onto the fringes of the battle for European football. It is unlikely that The Baggies will be able to snatch a Europa League place long-term but a top half finish would certainly represent a significant achievement for the Midlands club. They are currently on a four-game unbeaten run, having secured victories against Leicester City, Burnley and Watford in recent weeks as well as a point at the KC Stadium, but did suffer a heavy defeat when the last took on a leading Premier League side (4-0 against Manchester City). Historically, The Baggies have not won at Stamford Bridge in the Premier League era, although two draws in recent season will provide travelling supporters with hope for some optimism.
Chelsea will be hoping that their leading goal scorer Diego Costa will be fit enough to face West Brom on Sunday as Antonio Conte’s side look to cement their place at the top of the Premier League. The Spanish striker scored the equalising goal against Manchester City last weekend but was substituted in the closing stages and hobbled off the pitch. Cesc Fabregas was given a rare opportunity to shine in the starting line-up at the Etihad Stadium and the innovative midfielder is expected to retain his place after producing an impressive performance and providing an assist. This will mean that Nemanja Matic, who was left out of the squad against City due to a muscular problem, will have to be content with a place on the bench.
Tony Pulis has no new injury concerns ahead of West Brom’s trip to West London. The Baggies are expected to name an unchanged side to the one that secured a convincing victory against Watford last weekend as they go in search of a first Premier League victory at Stamford Bridge. Pulis has hinted that Saido Berahino could be included in the match day squad on Sunday but this is unlikely to be more than a place on the bench. The striker has been in a lengthy dispute with the club over his desire to move and has not featured for The Baggies in over three months due to concerns over his fitness, attitude and mentality.
Chelsea Predicted Starting XI
West Brom Predicted Starting XI
Chelsea are in the midst of a rich vein of form at the moment and are brushing aside all opposition with seemingly relative ease. Not only are Antonio Conte’s side scoring goals, but they also look defensively solid in their 3-4-3 formation. Despite the impressive start to the season that West Brom have made, it is hard to see anything other than a Chelsea victory.
Predicted Score: Chelsea 3, West Brom 0
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