Afternoon all! Sports Mole
's live Premier League coverage continues from the Hawthorns as struggling West Bromwich Albion
welcome a Chelsea
team that would have been boosted by their 1-0 win over Manchester United before the international break. Can the Baggies end their nine-game winless run in the Premier League against the champions? Stay tuned for all of the action!
Chelsea recorded 1-0 wins in both Premier League meetings last season – the last of which was a victory in this very stadium in May, which actually won Chelsea the Premier League title. The Blues have been victorious in three of their last four Premier League meetings, although West Brom did record a 3-0 victory when they clashed at the Hawthorns during the 2014-15 campaign.
Right, without further ado, let me bring you up-to-speed with the all-important team news from the Hawthorns. Both teams have had players away on international duty over the last couple of weeks – has that impacted on the team selection? Let's run through the two starting XIs for this match...
WEST BROM: Foster; Evans, McAuley, Hegazi; Gibbs, Krychowiak, Barry, Livermore, Phillips; Rodriguez, Rondon
CHELSEA: Courtois; Azpilicueta, Christensen, Cahill; Zappacosta, Bakayoko, Kante, Fabregas, Alonso; Hazard, Morata
Nacer Chadli and James Morrison both miss out for the home side this afternoon, but an attacking XI sees Jay Rodriguez and Salomon Rondon both start in the final third of the field. Matty Phillips and Jake Livermore also start, while Jonny Evans will skipper the Baggies from the centre of defence.
As for Chelsea, David Luiz is back in the squad, but the Brazilian only makes the bench as Andreas Christensen continues at centre-back alongside Gary Cahill and Cesar Azpilicueta. Eden Hazard
and Cesc Fabregas will again support lone forward Alvaro Morata
in the final third of the field.
So there we have it. The two teams are in, and we are now just about 40 minutes from kickoff at the Hawthorns. I shall speak about the home side a little bit later, but let's start with Chelsea. The Blues will enter this match off the back of a massive win over Manchester United before the international break, which ensured that they would stay in touch with runaway leaders Manchester City.
A record of seven wins, one defeat and three draws has brought Chelsea 22 Premier League points. They are one point behind third-placed Tottenham Hotspur and indeed one point off second-placed Man United. They are still nine points behind the leaders Man City, but that sounds a lot better than 12 which is what it would have been had they lost to Man United last time out.
Chelsea lost back-to-back Premier League matches against Man City and Crystal Palace before drawing 3-3 with Roma in the Champions League on October 18. They then won three straight games against Watford, Everton and Bournemouth, before suffering a 3-0 defeat away to Roma in Europe.
The clash with Man United was a very tight affair, but Alvaro Morata's second-half header ensured that Chelsea would collect all three points. They will be looking to make it back-to-back wins this afternoon, especially considering that Conte's side will travel to Liverpool next weekend. The next couple of months will sort out which teams are serious with their title aspirations this term.
As for West Brom, the Baggies started the season so well – beating Bournemouth and Burnley in their first two matches, before drawing at home to Stoke City as they collected seven points from their first three matches. It has been all downhill since then, however, with a nine-game winless run in the league piling the pressure on head coach Tony Pulis, who has selected an attacking XI here.
They will enter this match off the back of three straight Premier League defeats having lost against Southampton, Man City and Huddersfield. It does not get any easier as they prepare to host Chelsea this afternoon before travelling to Tottenham Hotspur next weekend. Another two defeats and there would be serious question marks surrounding the future of Pulis.
The Baggies are fortunate that they had a good start to the season because that has kept them outside of the relegation zone. They are currently 16th in the table on 10 points – just one point ahead of 18th-placed West Ham United. Meanwhile, they have only scored nine times in their 11 Premier League matches this season. Goals have been a real problem for the Baggies this term.
PREDICTION! I fancy Chelsea this afternoon. West Brom have really struggled in recent weeks, and I just cannot see that changing here. Conte's side picked up a very important three points against Man United before the international break, and should build on that with a victory at the Hawthorns.
Here we go then - both sets of players have joined us on the pitch ahead of kickoff this afternoon. Once the pre-match handshakes have been undertaken and the flags have been exchanged, we will be just about ready to get the action underway. Let's hope for an entertaining match!
KICKOFF! Chelsea kick things off at the Hawthorns...
... it must be said that there is a good atmosphere inside the Hawthorns, and the home side will be looking to feed off the support of the home fans. You do get the feeling that the first goal - if there indeed is one - could be vital this afternoon. West Brom's confidence is fragile at the moment.
Chelsea have made a decent start to the match as they look to build in the wide positions. Alonso breaks down the left before delivering towards Morata, but Evans makes the clearance.
GOAL DISALLOWED! Rondon heads home for West Brom, but the offside flag is raised. It was the correct decision. Really good header from the striker though!
Good stuff from the home side at the moment as they continue to pass and probe in the final third of the field. It is clear that the Baggies will look to get the ball wide and test out the heart of the Chelsea defence. Just a reminder that David Luiz is back on the bench for the champions here.
Quite an even game at the moment as both teams enjoy possession of the ball. Chelsea are neat and tidy in the final third, but have not yet been able to create an opportunity of note here.
Rondon is causing problems with his pace and power, and the striker again comes close to meeting a cross from Phillips, but Cahill does enough to make the clearance. Still goalless at the Hawthorns.
Possession football from the home side here as they look to build in wide positions. Rondon again powers away from Alonso in a wide area, but the striker is crowded out at the vital moment.
Zappacosta delivers a dangerous ball into the home side's box, but neither Morata nor Bakayoko can make contact. Neither side has really taken control of this match with 14 minutes played.
CHANCE! Big chance for the visitors as Bakayoko bursts into the home side's box before striking towards goal, but his effort is deflected just wide of the post. Big moment!
Hazard looks in trouble for Chelsea as he stays on the ground while the home side attack.
GOAL! West Brom 0-1 Chelsea (Morata)
Chelsea make the breakthrough in the 17th minute as Morata converts from close range after Foster had palmed a strike from Hazard straight into the box. Simple finish for the striker!
West Brom started quite well this afternoon, but they are behind on home soil once again. It is a massive test for the Baggies as they look to contain a Chelsea team that are starting to purr here.
BOOKING! Hazard (Chelsea) is booked for a foul on Krychowiak.
You do get the feeling that the next goal - if there indeed is one - could be vital. Chelsea come close once again as Alonso meets a loose ball on the edge of the box, but his effort is wide.
GOAL! West Brom 0-2 Chelsea (Hazard)
Chelsea double their lead in the 23rd minute as Hazard races onto a flick from Morata before rounding Foster and finishing into the back of the net. Absolute disaster for the home side here.
The home side are doing their best to force the issue, but they just cannot seem to keep the ball, and Chelsea look like scoring each time that they break forward. Hazard is absolutely full of it as he continues to dance in a wide area. The West Brom supporters need to lift their team here.
As it stands, Chelsea would move above Manchester United into second position in the Premier League table. Crisis? What crisis? Chelsea look a very good team at the moment.
Chelsea are very comfortable at the moment as they continue to pass and probe in the final third of the field. It looks like the visitors could score a third when they fancy it. West Brom, on the other hand, have the look of a team that are shot of any sort of confidence at the moment.
Foster takes a massive chance at the back and is forced to lunge to clear ahead of Morata, who goes down in pain. Livermore then has the chance to hit one down the other end, but his effort was always rising over the crossbar. Still 2-0 Chelsea with 32 minutes on the clock here.
Much better from the home side as Phillips races down the right before winning a corner, but Hegazi's effort is wide of the post. One goal would completely change the atmosphere here.
Possession for West Brom in the last few minutes, but they are not doing much with it. In truth, Chelsea are very comfortable as we enter the final stages of the first period at the Hawthorns.
GOAL! West Brom 0-3 Chelsea (Alonso)
Chelsea score their third of the afternoon as Alonso has the simple task of converting a Fabregas free kick at the far post. Again, the defending from the home side was absolutely terrible.
The Chelsea fans are in fine voice at the moment as their team continues to search for more goals. This could be anything in terms of a scoreline, which is very worrying for West Brom.
Boos are expected to ring out around the stadium when the half-time whistle is blown. Has Pulis lost this team? It is clear that there is something seriously wrong with the Baggies at the moment.
We are into the first of two additional minutes at the end of the first period here.
HALF-TIME: West Brom 0-3 Chelsea
So there we have it. The referee brings the first period to a close with Chelsea leading West Brom 3-0 courtesy of goals from Morata, Hazard and Alonso. In truth, the Blues have been far too good for a team that are set to stretch their winless run in the Premier League to 10 matches.
STATISTICS! Chelsea have dominated the possession with 61%, while they have had six attempts - four of which were on target, and three of which brought goals. West Brom, meanwhile, hit the target with just one of their three attempts, but did have an early Rondon header chalked off for offside.
BENCH WATCH! Willian, Drinkwater, Luiz and Pedro are among those on the Chelsea bench this afternoon, and it would not be a surprise to see Conte rest some weary legs in the second period. As for the home side, head coach Pulis has attacking options in the shape of Burke, McClean and Robson-Kanu.
RESTART! West Brom resume the action on home soil...
... WEST BROM SUB! Yacob has replaced Krychowiak at the interval.
It has been a decent start to the second period from the home side, with Rodriguez striking wide of the post and Gibbs having a low cross blocked. West Brom need to give their fans something to cheer!
Not too much to report from Chelsea in the early stages of the second period, with West Brom enjoying a lot of the ball. The game is already gone if we are honest though courtesy of the first 45 minutes. The Hawthorns is almost silent, which is such a big shame.
SAVE! Super save from Foster to keep out Hazard's close-range strike!
BOOKING! Fabregas (Chelsea) is booked for simulation.
Rondon continues to cause problems with his movement and power in the final third, but Courtois is still having a comfortable game between the sticks. Something has to give for the home side here.
BOOKING! Rondon (West Brom) is now booked for diving inside the box.
SAVE! Foster has to keep out a strike from Morata as Chelsea look to score a fourth before the hour mark. Some of the defending from the home side has been very poor here.
Little over 30 minutes of football remaining, and the stadium is absolutely silent. West Brom are doing their best to fight back, but they cannot seem to fashion a clear chance. Chelsea are heading into second position in the Premier League table with all three points this afternoon.
GOAL! West Brom 0-4 Chelsea (Hazard)
Chelsea score their fourth of the afternoon as Hazard collects a super pass from Fabregas before settling and finishing into the back of the net. It is brilliant from the attacker once again.
Chelsea have just been too good for the home side this afternoon. Sometimes it is as simple as that. West Brom have been short all over the park, and they are in serious trouble at the moment.
CHELSEA SUB! Drinkwater replaces Chelsea for the away side here.
Just a reminder that a win for Chelsea is moving them into second position in the Premier League table, although Man United would have the chance to return to that position when they host Newcastle in the late kickoff. Little over 20 minutes of football to play at the Hawthorns here.
CHANCE! Kante feeds Morata, but the striker fires well over the crossbar!
CHELSEA SUB! Pedro replaces Hazard for the away side.
SAVE! Foster makes a stunning save to keep out a close-range header from Morata, but the offside flag was raised. It was wonderful goalkeeping from the Englishman!
West Brom win a free kick just outside the Chelsea box, but it is comfortable for Courtois, who then releases Pedro in a wide position. Still 15 minutes of football to be played this afternoon.
CHELSEA SUB! Kante is replaced by Willian for the away side.
A number of West Brom fans have already made their way toward the exits, which is a big shame. Pulis will have some serious questions to answer after this match. This is just not what West Brom are about. Chelsea have been excellent, but the home side have been really, really poor.
Not an awful lot to report in terms of attacking football in the last few minutes, with Chelsea more than comfortable keeping possession of the ball. Still a solid 10 minutes of football to play here.
Little over five minutes of football remaining, and Chelsea are so comfortable here.
WEST BROM SUB! McClean replaces Phillips for the home side.
WIDE! McClean breaks into the Chelsea box, but his effort is wide!
McClean has at least raised the crowd with his dribbling abilities here.
Possession football from the home side in the last few minutes, but Chelsea are more than happy to defend as the Blues look to secure another clean sheet. Conte's side are heading above Man United into second position in the Premier League table, for the next couple of hours at least!
BOOKING! Yacob (West Brom) is booked for a foul on Christensen.
BOOKING! Morata (Chelsea) is booked for a foul on Yacob.
We are into the first of two additional minutes at the end of the 90 here.
FULL-TIME: West Brom 0-4 Chelsea
So there we have it. The referee brings the second period to a close with Chelsea running out 4-0 winners over a poor West Brom team. Thanks for joining Sports Mole for our live commentary of the action once again. Until next time!