Chelsea were totally outplayed by West Brom in Saturday lunchtime’s 5-2 defeat at Stamford Bridge. Even before a rusty Thiago Silva was sent off after just half an hour, the Baggies had posed a threat to the Blues and it was no fluke that the visitors later surged to a big win.
Chelsea were off the pace in every department. West Brom’s first two goals, both scored by the excellent Matheus Pereira, were totally avoidable from a defensive perspective, one the result of a long punt from the goalkeeper and the other from cheaply losing possession.
This was a West Brom side that had won just three of their previous 29 Premier League games and, even after this victory, still look certain to be relegated at the end of the season.
It was almost a case of roles reversed on the day, with the Baggies taking on the part of Champions League chasers and Chelsea looking more like the relegation fodder.
Thomas Tuchel has had a massive impact on Chelsea since taking over from Frank Lampard in late January. He inherited a struggling team that had lost five of its last eight Premier League games and had slipped from top four contention towards mid-table obscurity.
In his first two months in charge, Chelsea found their feet, going unbeaten in all competitions, taking 22 points from a possible 30 in the league, continuing to progress in the FA Cup and comfortably knocking a very strong Atletico Madrid out of the Champions League with home and away wins.
Tuchel was even named Premier League manager of the month for March, making him just the second German after Jurgen Klopp to receive the accolade.
But the timing of Chelsea’s worst performance under Tuchel could hardly have been worse. It wasn’t that it was simply a miss-step, it was a major embarrassment just four days before returning to Europe to face Porto in the Champions League last eight.
Had this happened before the international break or not with a crucial game coming up almost immediately at the business end of the season, it would be different. Now, the pressure is on to react and ensure that the same mistakes and sloppiness are not present against Porto.
If Chelsea are as lax in possession again and give Porto the kind of space that West Brom gratefully exploited, they will be severely punished for it.
Source : 90min