Fear of relegation was looming large over Chelsea halfway through December, but things are a little different as they host West Brom Albion at Stamford Bridge on Wednesday evening. The change of manager has proved good for the Blues as they are unbeaten in five games since then, winning three and drawing two in the process.
Soccer pundits are not sure if the interim manager, Guus Hiddink, deserves credit for the sudden surge in the form, or it was the exit of Jose Mourinho that paved the way for a turnaround. However, what is for sure is that the team with the highest wage bill sits 14th in the Premier League table.
As per goal.com, Chelsea spent a total of £215.6 million on salaries; more than any other Premier League club in the previous season. On the other hand, West Brom paid £13 million in wages last season and sits two positions (12th) above Chelsea on the league table.
Guus Hiddink’s side are unbeaten in their last five fixtures with three wins. Moreover, they have kept three clean sheets. West Brom, on the other hand, are looking forward to stretching their three-match unbeaten run.
However, both teams have only produced a single victory and lost thrice in their last six away League games. But the Baggies, after a home defeat to Chelsea in the first half of the campaign, may be plotting a soft revenge.
For their upcoming clash, we have picked three players who can have a remarkable impact on the game.
The Scottish Professional has won four Premier League and one Champions League titles against Chelsea during his career with Manchester United. Since his arrival at West Brom in last January, the veteran has been rock solid for the Baggies. He won’t be dismayed easily by the depth of Chelsea squad. We have already seen the Hawthorns win matches whenever he delivered quality in the middle. If he performs well, West Brom might surprise the North London outfit.
With all of the Chelsea squad squandering opportunities, Costa was no different. He has scored only 8 goals in all competitions this season, with two of them coming in last three fixtures. It indicates that the forward may be on the verge of a comeback.
Chelsea attack looks best when Costa is at his optimum level. The ex-Atletico striker picked up a knee injury in FA Cup victory over Scunthorpe but is considered fully fit to face West Brom. If he links up well with Fabregas and Willian, Chelsea may just be too hard to stop.
While we sit back and criticise the underperformance of Chelsea players, Willian is one player who is not to blame for his team’s catastrophe. The Brazilian has netted 8 goals in all competitions this season, apart from assisting 3.
Willian has made 42 key passes and created 45 chances for his team, alone. Fabregas, who is second best in the stats mentioned above, has 24 key passes and with 26 chances created. This goes without any doubt that Willian is an underrated prospect of the Blues. Given his current level of fitness and form, the striker is expected to play the most decisive role in the following game and rest of the season.
The goals may flow since both teams have defensive issues and are hungry for three points to secure a spot in top ten. But with Blues’ form since Hiddink’s arrival, they may steal the show with a score of 2-1.