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February 11, 2014
• The Hawthorns, West Bromwich
Referee: A. Taylor
• Attendance: 24327
West Bromwich Albion
V. Anichebe 87'
B. Ivanović 45'+
That's all we have time for from the Hawthorns, as the hosts grab a deserved equaliser to hold Chelsea to a 1-1 Premier League draw. Ivanovic gave the visitors a first half stoppage time lead, before a resurgent West Brom earned their just desserts late in the game. I've been Simon Harrison, and I hope to see you again next time.
West Brom continue to look for that elusive win, but squeeze out of the relegation zone for the time being, with their good goal difference perhaps being a vital factor, should they survive the drop. Chelsea go two points clear at the top of the league, but Man City and Arsenal face each other tomorrow evening.
FULL TIME! The corner comes to nothing, with Foster claiming the final set piece! The players are embroiled in a bit of post-match animosity, with players squaring up to one another and Torres pushing Foster. Chelsea have managed to escape their bogey ground the Hawthorns with a point, with Anichebe's glancing header handing the Baggies an important draw.
90' + 7'
WILLIAN! Hazard drives down the left flank, before cutting the ball back into the path of Willian, arriving late on the edge of the box. The Brazilian's strike is blocked by McAuley, Foster prevents the ball from going behind, but the referee awards a corner!
90' + 6'
BERAHINO! The youngster smashes a low drive across the penalty area, but it is just about dealt with by Luiz! West Brom remain on top, with Torres extremely isolated, and Mourinho will probably be happy with a point now!
90' + 5'
ANICHEBE! The goalscorer races past an injured Cahill, onto a lofted through ball, but he can't find the winning goal! He is forced wide by the recovering England international, and thumps his effort into the legs of his marker. Corner for West Brom, but the first is deflected behind for another corner...
90' + 4'
VYDRA! The former Watford striker looked to feed off the knock-down of the imposing Anichebe, but he can't keep his volley down! The Czech international hasn't found his scoring touch for the Baggies, but there's still time for him to make himself a hero.
90' + 3'
IVANOVIC! Well, that was a terrible effort! The Serbian defender has been amongst the goals in recent weeks and tonight, and decides to try his luck from 30 yards - resulting in the most embarrassing strike of the night. As long as it's not in their half, however, Chelsea won't mind.
90' + 2'
The home fans continue to urge their players forward, with Mourinho cutting an isolated figure in the Chelsea technical area. Their assured first half performance seems a long time ago now, and the away side have surrendered their control over this match in some style.
BRUNT! OVER! Berahino picks out his teammate on the edge of the box with a smart pass, but he can't get it out from his feet, and arrows his shot over the bar! There will be SIX minutes of added time!
Yellow Card Nemanja Matić
BERAHINO! The England U21 international receives possession on the edge of the area, before looking to slide in Anichebe, but the goalscorer can't quite take the ball in his stride! In the dying embers of the game, it's looking to be the Baggies who will find the next goal.
Yellow Card Victor Anichebe
Well, that goal was certainly coming, Chelsea have looked rattled since Anichebe took to the field. Salah is going to be the man coming on, rather than Lampard, as Mourinho changes his plans. A point just won't do for the visitors, especially against a side in such poor form.
Assist Saido Berahino
Goal Victor Anichebe
GOOOOOOAL! WEST BROM EQUALISE THROUGH ANICHEBE! The Nigerian substitute manages to get the faintest of flicks on a great cross, allowing for the ball to bounce onto the inside of the post and trickle in! Well, the changes have worked!
Cahill receives some treatment on the field, before the former Bolton defender is forced to limp off the field due to his injury - but is of course taking the longest possible route to the match. Lampard is readying himself to come on, but as soon as Cahill leaves the field of play, he looks much more sprightly.
Chelsea have to weather the storm for less than ten minutes, but Mourinho's men are looking worried. They've been rattled by West Brom's switch to three strikers, and are committing foul after foul. Cahill goes down injured, and it wouldn't be surprising if the England international was simply taking the momentum out of the game.
David Luiz is all over Anichebe's shirt in the penalty area, but Anthony Taylor doesn't look interested! The Brazil international is tugging at his shirt, almost pulling it off, but Chelsea escape. Matic commits a foul, 30 yards from goal, and the league leaders are looking uncertain.
Yellow Card David Luiz
MORRISON! Great block from David Luiz! Morrison bursts into the penalty area, before looking to unleash a hammer-strike across Cech's goal, but the Brazilian defender slides in well. From the resulting corner, the delivery is excellent, but a queue of Baggies' players can't turn it home.
John Obi Mikel
While Pepe Mel makes positive changes, Mourinho does the polar opposite, bringing on Mikel in place of Oscar. That is a statement of intent from Chelsea to close this game out, and it's an understandable move. The Baggies are starting to get on top, with possession sticking upfront.
West Brom are certainly going for the equaliser now, Pepe Mel has switched to three men up front, and it's starting to find a few chinks in Chelsea's armour. Thievy looks to have a touch of cramp, however, and may have to be replaced on his home debut,
Yellow Card Branislav Ivanovic
BRUNT! Another chance for West Brom, as gaps start to appear in the Chelsea defence! Brunt is found with time and space at the back post, but he chooses to strike the cross on the volley, rather than controlling it. He volleys five yards wide of the post.
THIEVY! So close for the home side! A West Brom corner is floated towards the back post, before an attempted header falls to Thievy unmarked at the back post. He thrashes it towards goal, but it takes the slightest deflection and skips narrowly wide of the far post.
The home crowd continue to urge their team forward, with the physical qualities of Berahino and Thievy continuing to shine through. As players start to tire, these two look as though they could keep playing all evening! Pressure building for the hosts.
MORRISON! The West Brom midfielder blazes narrowly over the crossbar from just inside the area! Thievy did excellently to beat Ivanovic and slide the ball inside to the Scotland international, but he couldn't convert the opportunity.
West Brom still have 20 minutes left to find an equaliser, but Chelsea are looking solid and disciplined, as Mourinho has set up his side excellently yet again. Hazard bursts into the area, before shaping to cross but choosing to cut back on himself. He feeds Torres the ball, but the substitute is under intense pressure and can't get a shot away.
A few yellow cards have been shown in this second half, as the tempo drops and the flow of the game starts to be interrupted. Torres is warming up on the sidelines for Chelsea, just in time to see Eto'o blaze well wide. Hazard worked hard to break down the left, before releasing the former Inter striker with a clever flick, but the former Cameroon international blasts over from a tight angle.
Yellow Card Willian
Well claimed by Cech! The Chelsea goalkeeper is quick off his line to smother an intelligent flick-on by Amalfitano, as it looked to bobble through to the lurking Berahino! The young English striker throws his hands to his face in frustration.
MCAULEY! The Northern Ireland defender meets a West Brom corner, which was won by good work down the left from Berahino and Amalfitano, but can't turn it towards goal! It deflects off the side of his forehead and loops well wide.
Pepe Mel is forced into the first change of the evening, with the injured Yacob being replaced by Mulumbu. That might be a blessing in disguise for the hosts, as the Argentine midfielder was already on a yellow card, allowing for his replacement to be a little more forceful in the tough midfield battle.
Thievy! He ducks and weaves on the edge of the penalty area, but can't bypass both Azpilicueta and Cahill, and ends up turning back into trouble. The former Espanyol man is certainly a raw talent, but he's struggling to find the final ball or great effort which would make him an instant fan favourite.
Chelsea are looking very assured, with the blend of energy from Ramires and pure strength from Matic making it very hard for the Baggies to have any extensive midfield pressure. When Oscar drops back to make a midfield three, the hosts are really struggling to find any kind of staying power in the centre of the park.
WILLIAN! Excellent strike from the Brazilian, but Foster is equal to it! It's hit with such force from 20 yards, that it looks to swerve in the air, but it in fact takes a wicked deflection! Foster re-adjusts to beat the effort away, in what turned out to be a great save.
OSCAR! He's found in plenty of space on the right flank, before skipping into the area and ballooning an effort over the back post! It's rather hard to tell whether that was a cross or a shot, but it was pretty awful either way!
One thing which West Brom fans can certainly come to expect from Pepe Mel's side is constant desire, whether it be to attack with pace or to win the ball back. At the moment, however, it's simply a case of Mourinho's side being too well-drilled and comfortable to be flustered by the Baggies' approach.
That's a late challenge on Ridgewell from Willian, but the English left-back does his opponent a huge favour, by springing straight back to his feet. It was only a clash of hips, but it did look much worse at the high speed the Premier League is played at.
Chelsea have started the game quite well in the second half, with Eto'o continuing to be an ever-present runner. West Brom aren't able to play with the same tempo as they did in the first half, and are relying more on the pace of their strikers to carry themselves upfield.
Yellow Card Claudio Yacob
ETO'O! The Cameroon striker forces Foster into his first real save of the game, as he arrows a firm shot towards the front post, after being played in by a cute pass from Willian. He got behind the ball, but the tight angle made it easier for the Baggies keeper.
Good defending from David Luiz! Berahino manages to drive down the channel, before looking to cut inside the Brazilian defender, but Luiz stands tall to block his path. The West Brom forward doesn't give up, but the Chelsea man remains calm, shepherding the ball out of play.
OSCAR! The diminutive Brazilian has the first opportunity of the second half, as a half-clearance falls to the midfielder, 20 yards from goal. His first touch is a dipping half volley, but it spirals well wide of the post, with Foster looking anything but flustered.
We are back underway for the second half! Chelsea took an important lead in first half stoppage time, courtesy of Branislav Ivanovic, but Mourinho's men still have a lot of work to do to put this game to bed. West Brom's front three have been threatening on the break, so this second period of 45 minutes should be enthralling!
Chances for Eto'o, Ivanovic and Willian have been the best opportunities for the away side, who have dominated possession. West Brom haven't been scared to have a go, with Thievy and Berahino combining well at times, but Cech has been totally untroubled in the Chelsea net.
HALF TIME! Chelsea have nicked the half time advantage in stoppage time, but Mourinho's men aren't out of the woods yet. Ivanovic's goal is what the visitors deserve, but West Brom still pose a real threat on the break, forcing the away side to perhaps go looking for the second goal.
45' + 3'
Goal Branislav Ivanovic
GOOOOOAL! IVANOVIC GIVES CHELSEA THE LEAD AT THE DEATH! Good work undone for the hosts, as the Serbian right-back turns home a corner in the dying seconds, volleying home from six yards out!
45' + 3'
Assist David Luiz
45' + 1'
CAHILL! The England defender wants a penalty, as he is clambered on by Yacob, but the referee says that nothing is doing! He certainly looked to be hauled down, but no penalty for Chelsea!
Chelsea are building some pressure late in the half, firing several crosses into the box, but West Brom are weathering the storm. The duo of McAuley and Dawson are looking to be a good match for Eto'o. There are two minutes of stoppage time added on.
ETO'O! Great challenge from McAuley! Ramires is fed down the right flank by a Hazard header, and delivers a wonderful low ball towards the near post, begging for Eto'o to meet it. McAuley stretches across his man, however, and prevents Foster from making his first save of the match.
WILLIAN! Following a headed clearance by McAuley, Willian controls the ball on his chest from 25 yards out, before striking it on the volley ambitiously! It fizzes over the crossbar, but the former Anzhi winger is getting closer with each effort.
Yellow Card Morgan Amalfitano
CAHILL! The former Bolton defender rises highest to meet a Chelsea corner delivery, climbing all over his marker to reach the ball! The referee would have blown for a foul, but the England international's header bounced its way into the gloves of Foster - play on.
West Brom continue to hold their shape, with Chelsea looking a little low on ideas, apart from when Hazard is on the ball. The Belgium international looks to be the game's catalyst, a chance looks like materialising whenever he receives possession.
Ramires returns to the field after a couple of minutes of physio attention, to the loud whistles of the home support. Less than ten minutes until the break, and both sets of fans remain in great voice, having seen glimpses of inspiration from both of the respective sides. This game could come completely alive with a goal.
Ramires beats Thievy with an excellent piece of skill, chopping the ball away from the attempted challenge of the West Brom forward. The Chelsea midfielder goes down clutching his leg, and will need some medical attention for what looked like an innocuous challenge. Thievy is certainly endearing himself to the home support!
RAMIRES! The Brazilian tries to cross from the left byeline, but his delivery is deflected by the leg of Reid, looping the ball towards the back post, forcing Foster to watch the effort dip wide. Moments later, Ivanovic is bearing down on the Baggies' goal yet again, but the right-back is tackled firmly, with Chelsea winning a corner.
Berahino skips around a poor challenge from Matic, before looking to pick out Thievy with an eye-of-the-needle pass into the Frenchman from the edge of the area. It's cut out by Cahill, who hoofs clear. The league leaders aren't having it all their own way at the Hawthorns.
Chelsea continue to monopolise possession, with West Brom continuing to threaten on the break. Their forward three look to get forward whenever they can, with both Berahino and Thievy able to hold up play and wait for onrushing support.
BRUNT! West Brom break down the right yet again, before a cross to the back post is nodded back square by Berahino. Thievy gets on the end of the knock-down, but his control lets him down, forcing him to pass the ball backwards to Brunt. The midfielder lets fly with his first touch, but drags his effort wide of the far post from 18 yards.
WILLIAN! The Brazilian receives possession 25 yards out from goal, before taking a quick touch out of his feet and hammering an effort towards Foster. The ball whistles narrowly over the crossbar, with the West Brom keeper having his angles covered.
HAZARD! Great ball from the young winger, he carves open some space on the right flank, before whipping a cross directly through the corridor of uncertainty, with Foster glued to his line. He's been Chelsea's most creative influence, switching wings at will, and he looks to be the player who will make the difference.
Thievy receives some instructions on the sideline for the Baggies, and the new signing might be being told to hang on the shoulder of a certain Chelsea defender. If the hosts can pick a good pass over Chelsea's defensive line, the former Espanyol man will be through on goal, with pace to burn.
ETO'O! IVANOVIC! The Cameroonian striker wriggles free of his marker, spinning off with his back to goal, and drives to the byeline. He cuts a pass back into the path of Ivanovic, who had steamed into the penalty area, but the Serbia international is denied the chance to shoot by a combination of McAuley and Foster.
Well, we're past the 20 minute mark, and neither side are yet to fashion a clear cut chance. Chelsea are in control, moving the ball smartly and sharply, but they can't seem to find an incisive pass. West Brom will be buoyed, they've held their own.
Amalfitano stabs a ball in between Azpilicueta and Luiz for Berahino to chase, but the Brazilian centre-half just about has enough of a head-start to reach the intended pass first. West Brom haven't threatened too much, but the athleticism of their forwards is causing a few issues for the away side.
The home crowd are incensed with our referee for the night, Anthony Taylor, as the match official gives two throw-ins in quick succession to Chelsea - when they believe that the decision should have awarded them to their team. Amalfitano joins the protests too, but the Frenchman needs to be careful, he's already been warned for his dissent.
THIEVY! West Brom break in numbers, with Thievy, Berahino and Amalfitano pressing upfield quickly, but the former fails to find his strike partner with a cut-back from the byeline. A couple of nice step-overs, but no final ball from the striker, who does look to have the beating of Chelsea's defence for pace.
Chelsea will be pleased with how they've started this game, dominating possession and enjoying plenty of time in the opposition half. Cech has had nothing to do apart from watch the game, so far, and Mourinho will be pleased with how his side have set up their stall.
OSCAR! McAuley hooks away the Brazilian's attempted cross! Good work from Eto'o, who holds up Dawson at the edge of the box with his back to goal, before flicking a pass backwards to the advancing Oscar. The Brazil international stabs a cross along the length of the six yard box, but only McAuley is present at the back post to ensure that nobody in black can stab it home.
The opening ten minutes have passed without either goalkeeper being tested, but both managers will be pleased with their sides' intensities. Both outfits are prepared to press and harry, with new Baggies forward Thievy in particular hassling the Chelsea backline and defensive midfielders.
Hazard cuts in from the left hand side this time, with Amalfitano unwilling to get too close to the Belgian, but his slipped ball inside rolls through to Foster. Eto'o looked to control it in the middle of the penalty area, but the pass rolled under his foot and through to the awaiting former Man United keeper.
Half chance for West Brom! The hosts break down the right once again, and this time it's David Luiz's turn to hook a powerful cross away at the near post. The final ball hasn't been forthcoming yet, but this game is certainly rather open. The hosts aren't willing to sit back, despite their recent form under new boss Pepe Mel.
Good work from Ramires! Amalfitano saves the Baggies, as the Frenchman tracks back effectively to prevent Willian from racing through on goal, following a lung-bursting run from Ramires. The Brazil international sidestepped two challenges before laying the former Anzhi man through, but Amalfitano stuck to his responsibilities well.
Smart clearance from Dawson! Chelsea's dangerman Eden Hazard cuts in from the right, before laying the ball into space for the overlapping Ivanovic. The Serbian right-back delivers early, but Dawson is on hand to scramble the ball away before it reaches the near post.
Cool head from Dawson! The former Rochdale centre-back cushions a lofted through ball back to his goalkeeper, despite being under intense pressure from the scavenging Samuel Eto'o. An even start at the Hawthorns, and the Baggies aren't looking starstruck.
Good start from West Brom! They push down the right flank, with Amalfitano and Berahino combining smartly, before the former whips in a dangerous cross. Ivanovic stoops low to head the ball away at the back post. West Brom are lining up with two forwards this evening, though Berahino looks to have some defensive responsibility on the left.
And we are underway in the first half at the Hawthorns! Snow has been falling in the stadium, but we should be fine to continue, with the playing surface looking unaffected. West Brom are in their customary blue and white shirts, while Chelsea are donning their black away strip.
Well, snow is falling at the Hawthorns, as has been the case all over England today, which will add to Chelsea's challenge here tonight. The current league leaders have struggled here in recent clashes, failing to win on this pitch in their last two outings. Title winning sides should be full of character, able to grind out important results in tough situations, so Mourinho will be looking for a favourable result despite the weather and the arena tonight.
We are 15 minutes from kick-off, so be sure to stick around for all of the action from the Hawthorns, for a game which has huge implications on the Premier League table. Chelsea need a win to keep themselves as the unequivocal frontrunner in the title race, while West Brom are looking to kick-start Pepe Mel's new era with a vital three points against challenging opposition.
The inclusion of new signing Thievy can give the home fans some hope, as the Frenchman netted a debut goal for the club last time out, with less than a minute spent on the field. West Brom have relied on sharing the goalscoring burden this season, with 16 players out of their squad contributing to the Baggies' tally, but the emergence of a dangerous, reliable frontman would be a welcome one.
With a win tonight, the Baggies could move up to 14th in the Premier League, demonstrating how close the relegation battle truly is. A few poor results, and any side can find themselves fearfully glancing over their shoulders. Chelsea, contrastingly, are looking to retain their position at the summit of the top flight pile this evening, with Mourinho's so-called transitional squad doing a good job of setting the league's pace.
Chelsea substitutes: Schwarzer, Cole, Lampard, Torres, Mikel, Schurrle, Salah.
Chelsea starting line-up: Cech; Ivanovic, Luiz, Cahill, Azpilicueta; Ramires, Matic; Willian, Oscar, Hazard, Eto'o.
West Brom substitutes: Myhill, Lugano, Anichebe, Dorrans, Vydra, Mulumbu, Gera.
West Brom starting line-up: Foster; Reid, Dawson, McAuley, Ridgewell; Amalfitano, Yacob, Morrison, Brunt; Thievy, Berahino.
TEAM NEWS: Ramires comes into the central defensive midfield pairing for Chelsea, with Nemanja Matic continuing to hold his place in Mourinho's plans. Samuel Eto'o leads the line, with the predictably chosen trio of Eden Hazard, Oscar and Willian in behind. Mohamed Salah is again included on the bench for the away side, but may look to enjoy some first-team minutes if things go to plan.
TEAM NEWS: Craig Dawson partners Gareth McAuley in the centre of the Baggies' defence, with Steven Reid slotting back in at right-back. Morgan Amalfitano is included in the starting eleven once again, with James Morrison partnering Claudio Yacob in midfield, instead of Youssouf Mulumbu. Thievy starts in attack for the hosts, after his impactful substitute's appearance last time out.
I'm Simon Harrison, and I will be leading you through all of the action, as Pepe Mel looks to improve on West Brom's meagre four Premier League wins this season. Home form becomes vital when embroiled in a relegation scrap, and thus the Baggies need to be looking for points from unrealistic sources - with tonight's visitors being the perfect example of such a foe.
Hello and welcome to tonight's latest Premier League kick-off, as Jose Mourinho's title-chasing Chelsea head to the Hawthorns to challenge struggling West Brom. Pepe Mel's side haven't been enjoying good form of late, finding themselves winless in their last five games and as a result have found themselves in the bottom three at kick-off tonight. A big game at both ends of the table.
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