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Preview: Chelsea vs. West Bromwich Albion - prediction, team news, lineups

Sports Mole provides predicted lineups, team news and a full match preview of West Bromwich Albion's trip to defending Premier League champions Chelsea.

Chelsea will attempt to get their league campaign back on track on Monday night when they play host to West Bromwich Albion in the final match of the Premier League weekend.

The defending champions have endured a dreadful start to 2018, failing to win eight of their 10 matches in normal time to see the pressure grow on manager Antonio Conte.


Antonio Conte celebrates Willian's equaliser during the Premier League game between Liverpool and Chelsea on November 25, 2017© Offside

For a man who has built up as ruthless a reputation as Roman Abramovich, it would not have been at all surprising to see the axe come down on Conte following successive three-goal defeats in the top flight.

To make things worse for Chelsea, those heavy losses in the space of five days came against mid-table fodder in Bournemouth and Watford, leaving their spot in the top four under serious threat.

Under-fire boss Conte responded by giving his players a three-day break during a rare midweek off, which he felt was "important" following a run of 10 games in 33 days across three competitions.

The short rest could either make or break Chelsea's season, with three defining home fixtures in quick succession against West Brom, Hull City and Barcelona in the Premier League, FA Cup and Champions League respectively.

Those matches will likely decide the fate of Conte, and the run of fixtures does not exactly favour the Italian as Manchester United and Manchester City are also to come immediately after.

Perform as they did against Bournemouth and Watford, the Blues will surely be on the end of an even heavier defeat when it comes to facing the continent's elite in Barcelona, likely spelling the end for Conte as the Champions League is his last serious hope of salvaging this season.

While a number of high-profile names continue to be touted with the Stamford Bridge job, most recently Maurizio Sarri and Luis Enrique, Conte must go about his business in a professional manner and attempt to improve on this terrible run of form.

Should three wins in 10 - including a penalty-shootout win over Norwich City in a tight FA Cup third-round replay - become three wins in 11 come Monday night, Abramovich may well decide that now is the right time to take action.

Recent form in Premier League: WDDWLL
Recent form (all competitions): WWLWLL

West Bromwich Albion

Baggies manager Alan Pardew watches on during the Premier League game between West Bromwich Albion and Manchester United on December 17, 2017© Offside

While the future may look bad for Chelsea at the present time, it is nowhere near as bleak as the situation West Brom find themselves in at the foot of the Premier League table.

A failure to win 23 of their last 24 top-flight fixtures has inevitably led to the Baggies propping up the division, where they now find themselves four points adrift of the three teams fighting it out directly above them.

Albion's only victory since August came at home to Brighton & Hove Albion a month ago, but they have since followed that up with one point from a possible nine at a time when the teams around them are picking up the odd win.

Alan Pardew's arrival at The Hawthorns in late November did not exactly bring around an instant improvement in form, it is fair to say, though a corner did look to be turned at the turn of the year when putting together a run of three wins and a draw.

One of those victories came against Liverpool at Anfield in the FA Cup, proving that West Brom can mix it away to one of the big boys, only to then slip to defeat at Man City and suffer a crushing home loss to Southampton last time out.

That 3-2 setback in the West Midlands was a tough one to take for Pardew, leaving his men staring relegation directly in the face unless some momentum can be found heading into a run of six games against mid-to-lower division sides after Monday night's match.

Albion do at least have an FA Cup run to keep them going, with Southampton ironically up next in the last 16 of the competition, but picking up points in the Premier League is the top priority for Pardew.

Ten goals scored in their last six matches does at least offer some hope for one of the country's lowest-scoring teams, and against a Chelsea side equally out of sorts, this could be the match that truly transforms the Baggies' campaign.

Recent form in Premier League: DLWDLL
Recent form (all competitions): WWDWLL

Team News

Referee Mike Dean sends off Tiemoue Bakayoko of Chelsea in the game against Watford on February 5, 2018© Offside

Pedro picked up a knock in the 4-1 loss to Watford and may miss out on selection on Monday night, while Alvaro Morata is worryingly still not over what was thought to be a minor back problem.

Conte could therefore hand a first start to January signing Olivier Giroud, who was given a 25-minutes runout from the bench at Vicarage Road, while Eden Hazard and Willian will provide support.

Suspension rules Tiemoue Bakayoko out, meanwhile, so Cesc Fabregas may come back into the fold, and Chelsea are also hopeful of having Marcos Alonso back in time.

In terms of the visitors, Alan Pardew intends to select Grzegorz Krychowiak and Kieran Gibbs following their recent injury issues, but Jonny Evans remains doubtful.

That also remains the case for Hal-Robson Kanu and Jake Livermore, though Nacer Chadli and James Morrison are definitely ruled out for the trip to West London.

A 4-4-2 formation may be on the cards for the away side, spearheaded by Jay Rodriguez and former Chelsea striker Daniel Sturridge, who may still feel as though he has a point to prove at Stamford Bridge.

Chelsea possible starting lineup:
Courtois; Azpilicueta, Luiz, Rudiger; Moses, Kante, Fabregas, Alonso; Willian, Giroud, Hazard

West Bromwich Albion possible starting lineup:
Foster; Dawson, McAuley, Hegazi; Phillips, Krychowiak, Barry, Brunt, Gibbs; Sturridge, Rodriguez

Head To Head

Chelsea won the reverse fixture 4-0 in November through goals from Morata, Alonso and an Hazard brace, lifting them up to second place at the time.

More memorable than that was the 1-0 win at the tail end of last season, with Michy Batshuayi - recently sent to Borussia Dortmund for the rest of the campaign - netting a late goal to seal the title for the Blues.

West Brom have lost five of the last seven meetings, in fact, with their only win during that run coming on home soil in May 2015 - a match that saw Saido Berahino score twice either side of Fabregas's red card.

Sports Mole Logo

We say: Chelsea 2-0 West Bromwich Albion

Chelsea could well find themselves outside the top four by the time they face West Brom on Monday night, only increasing the pressure on their players ahead of this crucial three-week period. Despite struggling of late, however, the Blues are still strong favourites to come out on top against the division's worst side.

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Who will win Monday's Premier League meeting between Chelsea and West Bromwich Albion?

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Antonio Conte watches on intently during the Premier League game between Crystal Palace and Chelsea on October 14, 2017
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