Baggies Show Positives at the Bridge, but Time is Running Out for Survival

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In the end it was three goals to nil, as Chelsea stopped their rot with a big scoreline victory over West Brom, meaning they scored seven goals in two league games against the Baggies this season, without reply.

But while the first leg (the 4-0 win that saw West Brom sack Tony Pulis afterwards) saw a hapless display from the Baggies, this return at Stamford Bridge was anything but, as it was just about one of those games where the scoreline didn’t quite do the match justice.

‘We came here to put them under pressure because they were wounded’ said Baggies manager Alan Pardew. And on evidence of it, they did put significant pressure on Chelsea. West Brom started the game well on the front foot, forcing the champions into wayward passes, troubling them from crosses, and but for an ill-advised hasty finish from Jay Rodriguez, would have gone in front.

After that they had to endure having their backs against the wall for some time, and that spell told, as Eden Hazard put Chelsea in front. Even at 1-0 down, however, West Brom still put in a fight. Much has been made of how much their heads tend to drop when they go behind, especially away from home under Tony Pulis, but here under Pardew they kept going, kept seeking out openings, Salomon Rondon was denied by Thibaut Courtois while Johnny Evans headed over straight afterwards.

But, as Pardew noted post-match, in this kind of situations, they needed to take their chances, ‘to hurt them’, and when you don’t do that, and you go two down, it becomes nigh-on impossible to get something out of the game. ‘I felt bad for my defenders because they’ve worked really hard and done a lot of good work tonight’ Pardew added.

West Brom do seem to be doing a lot of good work under Pards, compare the 13 games under the former Crystal Palace boss to the 12 under Pulis this season, the Baggies are level on goals scored, ahead of chances created, touches in the opposition area, crosses, as well as shots taken. But on the most crucial of sections they still lack behind, eight points under Pardew compared to 10 under Pulis. The improvement has undoubtedly been there; the rewards however, not so much; they lie bottom of the table, seven points from safety, and with only three wins all season, with 11 games left.

The fixture list does seem a bit kinder to them (on paper at least); of their final 11 opponents, only five are currently in the top half, starting with a home game against 17th-placed Huddersfield in a fortnight, but the results need to improve soonest.

If their display at Stamford Bridge, and the stats since Pardew’s arrival, are anything to go by, West Brom’s luck is bound to change at some point. Only worry is if wouldn’t be too late by then.

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