The pressure has been piling on Tony Pulis as of late. This match certainly didn’t help. With the West Bromwich Albion owner in the stands to see the Baggies take on Chelsea, the visitors ran rampant over the hosts to the tune of 4-0.
Antonio Conte himself has just started to release any pressure on himself after a win against Manchester United, and his side certainly looked to regain some of the swagger that was on display last season.
This might have been the best performance of the season from Chelsea and a brace from Eden Hazard and goals from Alvaro Morata and Marcos Alonso certainly put a gloss on a comprehensive victory.
It could have gone much differently on another day. West Brom actually started the match with a good threat on the counter and actually had the ball in the net just four minutes in when Salomon Rondon’s header at the back post just squirmed underneath Thibault Courtois, but the offside flag had been raised.
Perhaps that reminded Chelsea to maintain their focus, and Tiemoue Bakayoko had the first real chance for the visitors when he collected a pass from Cesc Fabregas, rolled Gareth McAuley, and saw his shot deflected wide.
Hazard has been looking much sharper as of late since returning from his ankle injury over the summer, and this was a vintage performance from him. Jinking past Gareth Barry, he fired a left-footed shot that Ben Foster could only parry, and Morata was on hand to put in the rebound to give the Blues the lead.
Hazard and Morata combined again for Chelsea’s second. West Brom gave Fabregas all the time and space he wanted in the first half, and a pass to Morata was flicked on by the Spanish striker for Hazard to race onto. Foster raced off his line, but Hazard calmly took the ball around the keeper and passed the ball into the empty net to put the Blues up 2-0 just after the halfway point of the first half.
Ahmed Hegazi had all sorts of difficulty today, and his wrestling match with Morata gave Chelsea a free kick that led to their third. Fabregas floated a cross to the far post and an unmarked Alonso side-footed a volley into the roof of the net, and that seemed to drain all the belief from the Baggies.
Hazard put the finishing touches on the 4-0 scoreline with a calm finish from inside the area. Again, Fabregas was given the freedom of The Hawthorns to pick out a pass and found Hazard with a lobbed ball. The Belgian waltzed by Hegazi and had the time to settle the ball and get his head up before curling a shot past the helpless Foster.
The Hawthorns had already started to empty when James McClean had the best West Brom chance of the afternoon. Taking advantage of a Chelsea defensive mishap, McClean robbed Cesar Azpilicueta and raced through on goal, only to slide his shot wide of the post.
It summed up the afternoon for West Brom, but ahead of a trip to Baku to face Qarabag, Chelsea look like their confidence and form has returned.