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Supporters of Chelsea have this evening pleaded with manager Antonio Conte to move forward over the coming weeks with a pair of players omitted from the club’s starting lineup.
The two sides went head to head at Stamford Bridge, with Antonio Conte’s men desperate for all 3 points following a dismal run of form which saw the Blues fall to consecutive 3-goal defeats at the hands of Bournemouth and Watford.
West Brom, meanwhile, had fallen to defeats in their last 2 Premier League outings, the latter of which came in hugely disappointing fashion at home to fellow strugglers Southampton.
Ahead of tonight, the Baggies sat rock bottom of the English top-flight table, a full 5 points behind 19th-placed Stoke City.
The lineups for tonight’s crucial matchup were announced an hour prior to kick-off, with a number of notable inclusions and absences for hosts Chelsea.
Andreas Christensen returned to the heart of the Blues’ defence following a spell on the sidelines, while Olivier Giroud earned his first start for the Premier League champions up front.
Cesc Fabregas was also included from the start, stepping in for the suspended Tiemoue Bakayoko, while Alvaro Morata was fit enough for a place on the Chelsea bench.
However, Marcos Alonso was a notable absentee, with the Spaniard having been a surprise late scratch from the Blues’ squad for their clash with Watford last week as a ‘precautionary measure’.
Team to face WBA: Courtois; Azpilicueta (c), Christensen, Rudiger; Moses, Kante, Fabregas, Zappacosta; Pedro, Giroud, Hazard.
— Chelsea FC (@ChelseaFC) February 12, 2018
West Brom boss Alan Pardew, meanwhile, opted for the following, with Daniel Sturridge joining Salomon Rondon in a dangerous-looking forward line for the Baggies:
— West Bromwich Albion (@WBA) February 12, 2018
However, in a massive blow for the visitors with just 2 minutes on the clock, Danny Sturridge went to ground clutching his hamstring following an innocuous challenge from Cesar Azpilicueta, with the 28-year-old eventually succumbing to the problem and making his way down the Stamford Bridge tunnel with frustration etched across his face.
Following a shaky opening quarter of an hour for Chelsea, the Blues began to take firm control of proceedings as the half wore on, with Eden Hazard looking particularly dangerous.
And it was the brilliant Belgian who went on to break the deadlock with 25 minutes on the clock, playing a neat one-two with Olivier Giroud on the edge of the West Brom box before rifling home a perfect finish into the bottom-left corner of Ben Foster’s goal.
The second-half saw the home side maintain their dominance, with Victor Moses handing the Premier League champions a deserved second after Cesc Fabregas’ pass landed fortuitously at the feet of the Nigerian inside the West Brom box.
And Eden Hazard soon put the game firmly to bed with his brace and Chelsea’s 3rd of the night, picking up the ball on the right corner of the Baggies’ box before cutting inside and drilling a wonderful finish with his left foot past the wrong-footed Ben Foster.
It was a much-needed performance and result for Antonio Conte’s men, with droves of Chelsea’s fans having since taken to social media to point to the fact that neither Gary Cahill or Tiemoue Bakayoko were included from the start this evening, a factor which many believe played a huge part in the Blues’ change of fortunes.
As such, with Spanish giants Barcelona set to travel to Stamford Bridge next week in the last 16 of the Champions League, the Blues’ faithful have pleaded with their manager to continue without the duo moving forward:
We are a better team without Gary Cahill and Bakayoko
— ETYNOBA (@etyn_oba) February 12, 2018
I hope Conte has seen that this team doesn’t need Bakayoko and Cahill to be great!
He better learn
— Es (@slkie) February 12, 2018
No Cahill and Bakayoko, no problems.
— Damoo (@Denock__) February 12, 2018
— Chelsea_24 (@Chelsea47556322) February 12, 2018
It’s not rocket science. Cahill and Bakayoko have been the obvious weak links.
— Tee™ (@T_blinxx) February 12, 2018
How nice to watch a Chelsea match without Cahill and Bakayoko
— Alvin (@So_Damn_Trill) February 12, 2018
No Cahill and Bakayoko?
We play well. What a coincidence!
— ƝѺλH (@WiIIixn) February 12, 2018
No Cahill ✔
No Bakayoko ✔
No Alonso ✔
Azpilicueta captain ✔
Giroud starting ✔
Fabregas starting ✔
Hazard given a free role ✔
Giroud bursting brain.😜
— Wilson Oreoluwa (@Oreoluwabee) February 12, 2018
@ChelseaFC I just realized today that bakayoko and Cahill has been our problem for some weeks running. This is a decent performance and I appreciate the effort of the whole starting lineup. They have been 8/10 in my rating.
— iheoha dunstan (@chidunstan) February 12, 2018
If this coach ever start Gary Cahill and Bakayoko ever again. Sack him
— ETYNOBA (@etyn_oba) February 12, 2018
THIS IS WHAT HAPPENS WHEN CAHILL AND BAKAYOKO DONT PLAY 🗣🗣🗣
— 🌊 (@Germanilloy) February 12, 2018
Cahill and Bakayoko should be nowhere near Chelsea’s first team tbh
— George (@George__O) February 12, 2018
Antonio Conte has claimed Chelsea are suffering at the back because they are without one of their key players.
Andreas Christensen has been out for some time, and it seems that his presence in defence has been the one thing Chelsea have needed this season, and Conte made it very clear the amount of goals conceded in the last couple of games are partially down to him not being in the side.
He said:“For sure, he’s an important player for us. He’s an important player.
“It happened, this [that Chelsea conceded seven goals in the last two games without him]. It’s right to look at the stats, but we have to take the stats in the right way.
“But, for sure, Christensen is an important player for us. He’s playing a fantastic season.”
“I don’t know.
“It happened in the last two games. I don’t know why. But it happened. We didn’t concede many goals in the past when Christensen played.”
The Chelsea manager will be desperate to get his key players back for the game against Barcelona, and knows that any goals shipped by the Blues will have a negative impact on their hopes of going through to the next round or even having a chance in the second leg.
David Luiz knows just how good Luis Suarez can be, and Lionel Messi will finally want to score against the club, never having found the back of the net before against them, and not only will Chelsea have to make sure they have their defence at top level, they need Alvaro Morata back fighting as well.
The forward has posted a picture on social media of him back in training – and Chelsea fans will hope he gets up to full fitness as soon as possible to at least play some part in the game.
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Former Manchester United player Paul Ince has claimed that Jose Mourinho has rattled Chelsea manager Antonio Conte after their recent spat.
The pair went head to head in press conferences and it appears as though the Portuguese boss may have ended it all as the winner.
Since the start of the year the Blues have played 10 times, winning twice, losing three times and drawing the remaining games.
It’s hardly been world class form from Conte’s men and many have attributed the decline in performances to his spat with Mourinho.
Ince appears to be on board with those who claim that Antonio has been shaken by what happened and that his players have since lost their faith in him.
According to The Sport Review, Paul said to Paddy Power: “Ever since Antonio Conte had that public argument with Jose Mourinho, he hasn’t been the same.
“He’s not seemed happy since that little spat and things have been going wrong for Chelsea ever since.
“Everyone at The Blues seems to have lost their focus, and it’s obvious that Mourinho rattled Conte, exactly as he set out to do.
“Since that war of words, the Italian has looked dejected and just exudes negativity.
“As a top-class manager, it shouldn’t matter what’s going on in the press, and the problems behind the scenes. You should be positive for the sake of the team.”
The issue all began when Jose claimed he no longer celebrates ‘like a clown’ on touchlines anymore because he’s a more mature and level headed manager.
The question was put forth to Antonio Conte that the comment was directed at him although United’s manager never made it clear that way.
Conte responded saying that Jose Mourinho must have amnesia amongst other unpleasant things and the former Real Madrid boss shot back by saying he has never and would never be suspended for match-fixing.
The Italian became enraged and called Mourinho a little man and once again said a few distasteful comments, calling on the Portuguese to face him on the pitch.
The whole situation seemed to have no effect on the Red Devils who played seven matches since the turn of the year, winning six and losing once to Tottenham.
Chelsea vs West Brom
Will Antonio Conte still be in a job at Chelsea if the Blues lose to West Brom on Monday night?
After a 4-1 hammering at Watford last week, can anyone be confident of a Blues win?
The build up to the West Brom game is again being clouded by analysis of Antonio Conte’s future at the club.
Conte has a contract until the end of next season, yet many believe he’ll be gone sooner than that.
In this weekend’s Sunday Times, the now ‘old’ rumours that Luis Enrique is being lined up as Chelsea’s next boss, and Marco Silva could get the job until the end of the season, are again recycled.
Antonio Conte: ‘Don’t be stupid’
The big story for the Sunday Times is that Antonio Conte appears to have fired another warning shot.
As for his reaction on stories linking Chelsea with a managerial change, Conte warned the club to avoid doing something “stupid” like sacking him.
On the current situation at Stamford Bridge, the Italian commented:
There are two ways. There is a stupid way and an intelligent way.
TOMORROW'S FRONT COVER | May scores two in hard-fought win over Wales | Conte: Chelsea would be 'stupid' to sack me | Mourinho: Maybe I have to cry like Pep#tomorrowspaperstoday pic.twitter.com/wpDQKdWczC
— Sunday Times Sport (@ST_Sport) February 10, 2018
Who will Conte pick to face West Brom?
Despite a run of poor form, Conte hasn’t altered his team very much in recent weeks.
It is likely that Eden Hazard will play as a false 9 once again, much to the displeasure of many Chelsea fans.
Alvaro Morata is still struggling with an injury but it is still unlikely that we will see Olivier Giroud make his first Chelsea start since arriving from Arsenal.
Tiemoue Bakayoko saw red in Chelsea’s 4-1 loss at Vicarage Road on Monday evening and Cesc Fabregas is likely to replace the Frenchman in central midfield.
Andreas Christensen looks to be recovering well from his injury but Conte surely won’t start him this weekend.
Thibaut Courtois has been appalling in recent matches but it is extremely unlikely that Conte will revert to a second choice keeper when his job is on the line.
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Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich would be forced to shell out a staggering £26.7m severance pay to sack manager Antonio Conte, according to the Daily Mirror.
The former Juventus coach has come under fire in recent weeks with results leaving the Blues’ title defence in tatters.
Only last summer, the 48-year-old was rewarded for guiding Chelsea to the Premier League title with a new contract until 2021; nine months on and his side look a shadow of their former selves.
On Monday evening, Chelsea host West Bromwich Albion at Stamford Bridge as they look to avoid a third consecutive defeat in the league.
The West Londoners find themselves trailing league leaders Manchester City by a substantial gap of 19 points, having lost to both Bournemouth and Watford in the space of the last week.
Then in a weeks time, Conte will be gearing his side up for a huge Champions League last-16 clash with giants Barcelona, in a game which could potentially decide the Italian’s future.
However, with such a huge compensation fee Conte would be owed should he face the sack, Abramovich is reluctant to make a rushed decision on his future.
This afternoon, Conte spoke about his total focus on turning results around at the Bridge:
“I’ve not thought for one moment of the possibility of going away from this club.
My commitment and the commitment of my players is totally for this club.
A lot of time in football the manager and the coach depends on the result.
At the moment we are having a poor result. For this reason we have to pay great attention.
We have to try to stop this bad run and get three points against West Brom.
Every single player knows we have to try to improve the results and play better. Against Watford it was totally negative.”