Chelsea returns to action on Saturday morning against relegation-battling West Bromwich Albion. The last time these two met, this contest produced one of the season’s most thrilling matches. The Baggies took a 3-0 first half lead over one of Europe’s biggest sides before a last-minute Tammy Abraham tap-in secured the comeback for the Blues. The teams shared a point that day, but that is unlikely to be the case the second time around.
This game will be much different than the first. Both teams have new managers, new starting XIs and new tactics. Further, we now have a better idea of what each squad brings to the table. The home side is in scintillating form while West Brom is fighting for its life in the top flight.
Here is how The Pride of London staff sees the match playing out:
Anthony Gatt: 2-0 Chelsea
Picking up where we left off: clean sheets, low scoring games and three points on the board as a perfect appetizer for a big week ahead.
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Scott Brant: 2-0 Chelsea
It’s the new scoreline to pick, all the contributors are doing it. Two to nil just seems to be a common scoreline under Tuchel, and I am going to stick with it for most matches. I would like to see Kai Havertz score, and Ben Chilwell if he starts. All around good performance with another three points at the end of it.
Barrett Rouen: 3-0 Chelsea
Some of our players were able to get a bit of a rest and West Brom will be lacking Gallagher, conveniently. This prediction is more of something I would like to see as opposed to what I think will happen. We don’t score many goals but it would be nice to score more than this.
Olaoluwa Nwobodo: 4-0 Chelsea
The Blues embarrassed themselves in grand fashion in the reverse fixture. Now they’re solid at the back, and they have enough attacking talent to put away West Brom with ease. West Brom is lodged in 19th place for a reason, Chelsea should not make that a non-factor. Hakim Ziyech hat-trick and assist. The season is starting to wind down and the Blues have to buckle up for the home stretch now.
Abhishek Pancholi: 3-0 Chelsea
Big Sam might be looking at his first ever relegation, but his team will make it difficult for the Blues to get all three points. Well, in the first half at least. The Baggies’ midfield will be without Chelsea-owned Conor Gallagher, who looks set for a role at his parent club next season, if only as the holder of the title of “second-best head of hair after Marcos Alonso.”
Staying true to the stereotype, Big Sam will send out a physical side whose sole purpose in the 90 minutes will be to keep Chelsea as far away from its own goal, even if it takes all 11 players to remain camped in their own half throughout the game. Despite a block the size of Ever Given, the Blues will manage to wiggle free and open the scoring in the second half through the BFG—the Big Frail German. That will bewilder the Baggies, who had not planned on how they would respond to conceding a goal. Taking advantage of this confusion, even Timo Werner will get in on the act and bag a brace towards the end. That should be enough to break the curse of the Manager of the Month award.
Kevin Peacock: 1-0 Chelsea
No point in predicting anything much in the way of goals, because, let’s face it, it ain’t happening (cue the goal-fest). Big bad Sam will doubtless struggle to get one over on Little Tommy Tuchel, with 80 percent possession and a single goal by Havertz winning the day. The mighty Chelsea march on.
Michael DeVito: 2-0 Chelsea
The Blues are on a role and their defense is leading the charge; no reason to think they can’t sustain. Hoping for a Werner brace (one on penalty please, Mr. Tuchel) to break out of his scoring funk. He needs a lift and a penalty nod by Tuchel might just do it.
Mike Malley: 2-0 Chelsea
It’s been quite awhile since the Blues have graced a pitch, so the team’s chemistry might not be as strong as it was prior to the international break. However, with the Premier League’s Manager of the Month for March, Tuchel, at the helm, Chelsea will continue to be well-organized and disciplined defensively. A goal from Werner would do a lot for his confidence, so hopefully he can bag at least one.
Olly Smith: 3-0 Chelsea
I wanted a 2-0 scoreline, but everyone picked that and 1-0 seemed too boring for club football’s return—not that Tuchel seems to mind. The Baggies will sit back and make it difficult so the Blues will strike within the first 10 minutes and add two in the last 10. Bold call with Christian Pulisic, Havertz and Olivier Giroud to score—in any order.
Varun Dani: 2-0 Chelsea
Thiago Silva’s return and a Werner goal to round off another comfortably gritty performance by the Blues.
Tan Yi Hao: 2-0 Chelsea
Chelsea is officially entering the business end of its campaign with the conclusion of the final international break of the season. This is where even the tiniest of slip-ups could prove fatal and against a West Brom side barely hanging onto its rapidly fading hopes of survival, the Blues have to tread carefully here. Score early, and the game should be home side’s to lose.
Nate Hofmann: 2-1 Chelsea
The international break came at an incredibly inconvenient time for the Blues, who were (and still are) in the midst of a lengthy run of clean sheets. That perfectly tuned defensive structure might have loosened up over the break, and the lack of N’Golo Kante won’t help either. I’m expecting an eye-roll inducing goal conceded. Fortunately, West Brom is just a walking corpse at this point, so hopefully the resistance is minimal.
Gabe Henderson: 1-1 Draw
I have been incredibly upset with the Blues for making me wake up early just to witness a draw against lesser sides twice under Tuchel. In my heart of hearts, I think Chelsea wins this match quite comfortably; this prediction is solely meant to be different from my colleagues and change my recent stint of bad luck in the early mornings. Please—I want to be wrong.
What is your score prediction? Let us know in the comments or on Twitter!