A Fan's View: Albion 1 Chelsea 0
By Site Editor
Updated Sunday, 4th March 2012
Kettering_baggie gives his verdict on Albion's win
A nice leisurely ride to West Bromwich, courtesy of Baggieboygeoff, was followed by a visit to the Park Inn – where I received a bit of grief from HolmleighChris for what I have said about the place! The Murphy’s wasn’t too bad after all!
The team news filtered through and it was an unchanged one that demolished Sunderland last week. The Chelsea team, despite their relatively poor form, still sounds formidable. Could this possibly be the day that another longstanding hoodoo be vanquished? The view of most of our group in the Park Inn was that another performance like last week would give us at least a point.
There was an unusual start to the match, which saw Chelsea kicking off towards the Smethwick end; was this a ploy to make Cech stare into the bright sun for the first half? Anyway, kicking the wrong way or not, it didn’t take long for the Baggies to pick up from the form of last week – not letting Chelsea settle on the ball and playing on the counter attack, especially with Thomas and Odemwingie on the flanks. Liam Ridgewell’s height is certainly making a difference in our defence, as he made some good clearances from Drogba in particular.
Keith Andrews quickly made Lampard aware of his presence with some strong but fair tackles. An early Albion free kick was met by Olsson whose firm header was blocked by Drogba. A break down the right found PeteO, who wriggled his way into the box and Morrison’s strike from the edge of the area produced a fine save from Cech, tipping the ball over and into the Brummie. Odemwingie now had the measure of England full back, Ashley Cole, absolutely skinning him; great to see.
Mulumbu and Andrews had taken the upper hand in the battle for the midfield, battling for every ball and winning most of them. Morrison had another effort blocked, before making a great run but firing over the bar with his left foot. Foster made a save from Mata on his near post, before the same player ‘air kicked’ an opportunity inside the area. Foster then saved well again, this time from Essien.
The best chance of the half fell to Sturridge, put clear by Drogba, he may have been put off by the onrushing Foster and he put the ball wide, much to the relief of all us Baggie fans. Albion’s play was outstanding though, with Ridgewell and Thomas combining well on the left and Odemwingie pairing well with Reid. The back four were covering everything and it was a joy to watch.
The second period began with Sturridge making the most of a very minor Ridgewell foul; this was in contrast to the match as a whole which was played in quite a good spirit by both teams. Albion, though, carried on where they left off at the end of the first half, battling for every ball, winning it most times and covering every Chelsea move. Mulumbu and Andrews showing really great determination covering every blade of grass many times over. The consistency of the performance was so pleasing to watch. We kept up a high standard of play throughout and our fans were loving every minute.
Mention must be made of Marc-Antoine Fortune; he played the lone striker role to perfection, holding the ball up well every time he received it and also managed a couple of shots that went close.
Our most worrying moment came when Sturridge was put clear and he really should have scored, but Foster raced well out of his area, seemingly confusing the Chelsea striker, and completed a very clever clearance. Unfortunately, Reid appeared to injure himself, could be a calf or Achilles problem, he was replaced by Tamas, who fitted in seamlessly into the full back role. Thomas appeared to get another ankle knock and was replaced by a fit again Chris Brunt.
From this point on, our corners improved immensely, and Brunt combined brilliantly with Ridgewell only for his diving header to be blocked for yet another corner. Brunt then had a goalbound shot well saved by Cech.
The goal we richly deserved came in the 82nd minute. A corner wasn’t cleared and Andrews chipped the ball back in, Ridgewell knocked it back across goal for Gareth McAuley to stick out a leg and put it into the net. The Hawthorns went delirious! We nearly had another but Cech pulled off another save, this time from Andrews.
A late scare was in store for us as Lampard missed a great chance in stoppage time, which had been given as four minutes. Those were very long minutes indeed! Final whistle and The Hawthorns erupts, what a win!
This was, in my opinion, an even better performance than last week’s against Sunderland. Every player delivered a ‘Man of the Match’ display. Excellent goalkeeping by Ben Foster, who could be seen relishing the victory. The back four were immense; the introduction of Liam Ridgewell has taken us to another level, his height and presence in the opposition penalty area give us much greater threat than before. Our midfield controlled the game, how long since we could say that against Chelsea? I, for one, doubted the purchase of Keith Andrews but he has confounded many people with three outstanding games and has given Paul Scharner a real problem. Thomas and Odemwingie terrorised Chelsea down the flanks, and MAF was almost unplayable in the centre. What a day! Man of the Match? It’s not really fair to pick out one player but if forced to, I would find it difficult to choose between McAuley and Ridgewell; I’d give it to them to share.
Give your verdict on Albion's win at WBA-MAD's fans' forum here at Baggies Banter.