Albion were beaten in the end but the Baggies went down swinging against the reigning champions Chelsea. From the kick off, for the first time this season, we looked like we were ready to take the game to the opposition, something which we couldn’t do much about against City but I couldn’t help think why we didn’t have a similar approach against Watford – a game we should be looking to win.
We looked bright against a hesitant Chelsea and we moved the ball relatively well. Rondon, making his league debut, did not stop making runs and looking for the ball – I really liking the look of him. Another player making their first start of the season was Callum McManaman, who was causing Chelsea a lot of problems out wide. We looked comfortable in possession although distribution from the defence was extremely poor, with Olsson being the main culprit.
Albion had the first real opportunity to open the scoring when the tricky McManaman was fouled in the area. But Morrison hit the penalty low down the middle allowing Courtios to save. Mozza’s penalty miss followed by the opening Chelsea goal not long after was a massive kick in the teeth. Chelsea’s superb counter attacking second looked as if the game was going to be put to bed in the first half.
However, we did not give up. An acrobatic assist from Rondon fell kindly to Morrison who volleyed home convincingly. Albion were on the up again and an unlikely comeback did not look impossible. Azpilicueta against the run of play gave the visitors a 3-1 lead just before the break.
After the break
Despite Chelsea’s lead we refused to fold. Morrison’s glancing header past a helpless Courtios minutes after John Terry's dismissal gave The Hawthorns a huge glimmer of hope. Albion then dominated play for the remainder of the game. Lambert and Gnabry’s introduction showed Pulis’ intent to try and get a result, but only the latter caused any type of stir. He was maybe a little naïve with some of his shooting/crossing but Gnabry still looks the part and could be a valuable addition this season. Lambert’s input on the other hand lacked impact, but I’m going to put that down to a lack of full fitness.
Looking back at the game we can’t be too disheartened. I’ve always said I’d much rather watch us lose yet play well and go for it than sit back inviting pressure trying desperately to hold on for a 0-0. The team put in a proper shift and the fact that the majority of The Hawthorns faithful stayed to clap them off the pitch proved that. McManaman had the game of his life and finally showed a glimpse of what he can do if he can find form. Rondon looks a powerful and fast striker who isn’t scared to put himself about .
Despite the positive performance, I couldn’t issue this article without mentioning the absence of Saido Berahino. And with his transfer request 24 hours after game it’s safe to say we’ve surely seen the last of him. I’d rather bring in players that want to play for this club over keeping one who doesn’t. Time will tell on that front.
Let’s hope we can go to Stoke and get a result. Three points would make our points tally look a lot more convincing, but at least we’ve got two of the big teams out of the way already.
Come on you Baggies!
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