You wait, and wait, and wait for club football to return; then something like this happens. Chelsea wasn’t expecting to be handed a footballing lesson by Sam Allardyce of all people when West Bromwich Albion visited Stamford Bridge. What was viewed as a potential walk in the park—given the Baggies’ position in the table—turned quickly into a test of Chelsea’s character. The Blues failed the test, and quite horribly too.
West Brom scored five against a defensive unit which had conceded just twice in fourteen matches. Allardyce’s men were helped massively by Thiago Silva’s first-half red card. Nevertheless, they put in a clinical performance throughout and were extremely efficient when on the ball. Christian Pulisic opened the scoring for Chelsea midway through the first half before everything fell apart. Matheus Pereira scored twice to overturn the deficit, while Callum Robinson scored a brace himself. Mason Mount’s second-half goal proved to be merely a consolation for Thomas Tuchel, who lost his unbeaten start as the Blues’ head coach.
Here’s how the team fared in a truly dismal league outing:
Eduoard Mendy (Goalkeeper): 5/10
This wasn’t Edouard Mendy’s finest hour and a half in the Chelsea goal. The Senegalese custodian was left rooted to the spot for four of West Brom’s five goals. He did make a save from Pereira in the second half, but was beaten on five other occasions.
Cesar Azpilicueta (Centreback): 6/10
The Chelsea captain put in a strong shift despite Tuchel switching systems multiple times during the match. He started as a centreback, moved to the right back position, and then returned centrally—all in the space of 90 minutes. He defended well and continued to lend support in attack as his team tried to stage an unlikely comeback.
Thiago Silva (Centreback): 3/10
This wasn’t the return from injury Silva would have dreamt of. He was reinstated to the starting eleven by Tuchel following a lay-off which exceeded a month. Premier League’s March Player of the Month nominee, Andreas Christensen, gave way to him in the first XI, with Tuchel promising to bring the Dane on in the second half. However, two reckless challenges from Silva saw the veteran pick up a red card, allowing Christensen to appear much earlier than planned.
Kurt Zouma (Centreback): 5/10
Kurt Zouma struggled to deal with the opposition’s press at times, partly because of how little he has played under Tuchel. The Frenchman came into the starting XI in place of Antonio Rudiger but had a horrible day at the office. He was also guilty of spurning a golden opportunity at the other end, with Chelsea trailing 2-4 at that point in the match.
Andreas Christensen (Centreback): 6/10
Christensen’s omission from the starting line-up was surprising given how well he has performed lately. However, Tuchel decided to give minutes to the returning Silva while announcing that the Denmark international will come on in the second half. He didn’t have to wait that long to step onto the pitch courtesy of Silva’s sending off.