Sunday 11th December 12.00 GMT
On and on they march, like a fabled army moving with the favour of the gods, smashing down all before them. We’re not talking about the current actions of the Syrian government and their friends from Russia and Iran as they mercilessly massacre the civilian population of Aleppo but something far less genocidal and less important. In the grand game of distraction which we employ to shield us from the horrors taking place all around, football is almighty and Chelsea are its high priest.
The London side have won every league that they’ve played since the very beginning of October and show little sign of stopping any time soon. In that time, they have dispatched both Manchester sides and Tottenham Hotspur, amongst others, with near consummate ease and don’t look to have any weaknesses that can’t be identified and remedied in quick time on the pitch. They are, by some distance, the most complete team in the BPL right now and it takes some imagination to conceive of a scenario where that might not be the case.
West Brom as the Sword of History
And yet both gravity and history tell us that, on a long enough time scale, everything must fall. In terms of history, it’s rarely a single act in isolation that effects the fall but rather an accumulation of straws breaking the poor auld camel’s back that does the job. Any notion that West Brom might begin this process seems fanciful (the bookies certainly think so) but let’s spend a little time examining their credentials before we go back and concur with our initial thoughts.
Tony Pulis – kicking ass and taking names
It’s fair to say that West Brom’s form of late has taken many by surprise. Typically, a Tony Pulis team can expect a long slog of a season with a smattering of wins and losses scattered between many draws. At the time of writing, they have won 5 games, better than 33% of their league games thus far. Prolific goal scoring is not a trait associated with them and yet they’ve scored more league goals than Manchester United. In fact, they presently sit in 7th, just a single point behind the Manchester side. We’ve said it before but what an unusual year this has been.
Breaking the mold
Only two teams have gained more points in the last five games than West Brom and those teams occupy 1st and 2nd in the league table. Things have rarely been as positive for any team that Tony Pulis has managed over the years and they will feel that they can certainly cause Chelsea some defensive worries when they get forward. Matty Philips has begun to play well consistently and if left one-on-one with Gary Cahill, will back himself to beat the Chelsea defender. So, too, Solomon Rondon and James McClean. They have options; viable, offensive options.
And yet, it’s unlikely to be enough to beat Chelsea. Presently, there are few teams who could so there’s no shame in that but is a draw beyond their abilities? Short answer is ‘no’ but the slightly longer 9- minute answer is probably ‘yes’. West Brom do have a fighting chance in this game but Chelsea are so dominant at the moment, it’s still difficult to look past the home win. Best price for that outcome is 3/10 from StanJames.