Fourth place Chelsea travel to play West Brom this Saturday knowing they need to build on the win against Manchester United two weeks ago if they are to play a part in the title race this season.
The Blues are currently nine points behind leaders Manchester City, so cannot afford to drop further points. Fortunately for Antonio Conte and his players, West Brom are not in any kind of form. The Baggies have lost five of their last 11 games. But Tony Pulis’ men should not be underrated.
Chelsea likely lineup
Antonio Conte will likely play Thibaut Courtois in goal since Chelsea do not have any other reliable goalkeepers. Courtois conceded three goals against Mexico while on national team duty with Belgium during the week, but will be hoping he can keep a clean sheet against West Brom.
Having missed Spain’s friendlies during the international break, Cesar Azpilicueta will be fresh and we expect him to be one of the three centre-backs Conte will start with on Saturday. David Luiz, who missed the United match last time out, is likely to be missing again when Chelsea play West Brom. We believe Andreas Christensen will again be called upon again in place of the Brazilian. The third centre-back position will likely go to captain Gary Cahill.
With Victor Moses still nursing an injury, we fully expect Davide Zappacosta to play the right wingback position. While the opposite flank will most certainly be manned by Marcos Alonso. With Tiemoue Bakayoko likely to miss this clash due to injury and with N’Golo Kante back, we expect a Cesc Fabregas/Kante pairing.
Knowing how Tony Pulis sets up his teams, Conte will do well to play Willian rather than Pedro. West Brom are most likely going to sit back and defend and Willian will be needed to help unlock their defence if Chelsea want to win the match.
Eden Hazard gave Conte and Chelsea fans a scare whilst away on international duty after he was subbed off against Mexico due to a niggle. But Roberto Martinez has since confirmed that move was precautionary and with that in mind, we expect him to start this weekend.
Michy Batshuayi is certainly out with injury and even if he was fit, we do not expect Alvaro Morata to be dropped for him. Morata scored another goal for Spain against Costa Rica a few days ago, so Chelsea will be hoping he will carry that form into the match against West Brom.