CHELSEA 2-5 WEST BROM
- Goals: Christian Pulisic (£8.2m), Mason Mount (£7.1m) | Matheus Pereira x2 (£5.3m), Callum Robinson x2 (£5.2m), Mbaye Diagne (£6.0m)
- Assists: Marcos Alonso (£5.7m), Timo Werner (£9.2m) | Sam Johnstone (£4.5m), Diagne, Darnell Furlong (£4.5m), Pereira x2
- Red cards: Thiago Silva (£5.6m)
- Bonus points: Pereira x3, Robinson x2, Diagne x1
TUCHEL’S DEFENSIVE LOTTERY
Large numbers of Fantasy Premier League managers were left gobsmacked as their shrewd decision to invest in Chelsea’s defence completely backfired in a 5-2 defeat to West Bromwich Albion.
Thomas Tuchel’s back-line came into Gameweek 30 as the league’s strongest defence over his first 10 matches in charge, offering the lowest expected goals conceded (xGC) and fewest shots conceded since Gameweek 20.
They had the chance to register a club-record eighth successive shut-out at Stamford Bridge, which would have made them only the second English team to go unbeaten between the sticks in a new manager’s first six home matches.
But Matheus Pereira (£5.3m) had other ideas. Aided by a 28th-minute sending off for Thiago Silva (£5.6m), the budget midfielder scored twice, added two assists and secured maximum bonus for a whopping 21-point haul.
And, much like September’s reverse fixture, which finished 3-3, Callum Robinson (£5.2m) added another brace, ensuring Chelsea’s supposedly impenetrable defence was breached five times by relegation battlers.
In first half stoppage time, Pereira latched onto a long pass from goalkeeper Sam Johnstone (£4.5m) before lobbing over Edouard Mendy (£5.2m). It was only the third goal conceded in Tuchel’s 15 matches and, with Silva sent off minutes later, they let in four more.
“We’ve just demolished Chelsea. Demolished them. The quality of our football and the quality of our finishing today deserves a huge amount of credit. I don’t want any talk of the fact they went down to ten men rubbish. Demolishing Chelsea’s ten men today was still a massive task.” – Sam Allardyce
Such a result has naturally caused questions to hang over investing in Chelsea’s defenders, especially as the supposedly reliable Antonio Rüdiger (£4.7m) has now been benched twice in the last three matches.
Could this result be an indicator that West Bromwich Albion are nothing more than a bogey team for Chelsea this season? The eight goals they have conceded to the Baggies in 2020/21 are the most the Blues have ever conceded to a single team in a Premier League campaign.
Meanwhile, the Stamford Bridge side still have a promising run of fixtures against Crystal Palace (away), Brighton and Hove Albion (home), West Ham United (away) and Fulham (home) before a potential Double Gameweek, although the latter is far from certain.
That said, those planning to use their Wildcard chip will be disappointed at the uncertainties presented by such a large, deep squad.
Cesar Azpilicueta (£5.9m) and Mendy seem the most nailed-on defensive starters, despite the latter being rested against Newcastle in Gameweek 24. This 5-2 shock will emphasise to Tuchel that there’s a battle to secure Champions League football and they cannot afford to take any opponent lightly.
The return of Silva from a thigh injury means the two remaining centre back spots are shared between himself, Rüdiger, Kurt Zouma (£5.3m) and Andreas Christensen (£4.7m). But the Brazilian let his team down by collecting two yellow cards, forcing the attacking Hakim Ziyech (£7.9m) to be replaced by Christensen and giving confidence to the visitors that was emphatically rewarded.
“After the red card we could not adapt to the situations. We gave away two very easy goals before half-time, but even in the second half. What could go wrong went wrong after the red card, and we have to accept a big loss today. So maybe, hopefully, it is a big wake-up call for all of us, me included.” – Thomas Tuchel
WEST BROM NEED MIRACLES
For the final nine games of the season, Sam Allardyce’s side realistically needed to double their 18 points from 29. This was a great start, following on from 1-1 December draws at Liverpool and Manchester City. In truth, their free-flowing second half football was just as visible in the game’s opening stages, mostly the better side when both had 11 men.
The fantastic Pereira is now on seven goals and six assists, following up his equaliser by scoring even deeper into stoppage time. It was a hectic few minutes which also saw Matthew Phillips (£5.1m) hit the crossbar, the winger then acting as a blocker so that Pereira could land a dummy, cut inside and shoot low past Mendy.
After almost securing a hat-trick in the 61st minute, the majestic Pereira settled for simply setting up Mbaye Diagne (£6.0m) and then the fifth goal, as Robinson calmly dinked over Mendy to become the first player in Premier League history to score twice in both matches against Chelsea. Out-of-favour under Allardyce, this was only a cameo appearance from Robinson after coming on for the injured Branislav Ivanovic (£4.4m) in the 37 minute, himself a replacement for Dara O’Shea (£4.2m) 13 minutes previously.
BAGGIES’ IMPROVED DEFENCE
It was mixed feelings for the beloved former Chelsea man, who missed out on returning to a packed Stamford Bridge, picked up an injury but went away with the win. Owners of Johnstone will be encouraged by three clean sheets from their last six matches, although it’s perhaps wise not to expect assists on a regular basis. By setting up West Brom’s first goal, Johnstone became the second goalkeeper to assist this season, following Ederson in Gameweek 24.
Entering this match, West Brom had the eighth best xGC and fifth best shots conceded tallies of the previous five gameweeks, meeting Southampton (home), Leicester City (away), Aston Villa (away), Wolverhampton Wanderers (home) and Arsenal (away) in upcoming weeks. Full-back Darnell Furlong gets forward often and could be a maverick pick for FPL managers, assisting their third goal by overlapping, then pulling back a cross for Robinson to volley home.
Chelsea did threaten often, though. Zouma had three goal attempts from corners, whereas the threatening Marcos Alonso rewarded his new owners by assisting Christian Pulisic’s (£8.2m) opener. After early shots on goal that often saw him be furthest forward of all Chelsea players, Alonso’s free kick hit the post and the American pounced upon the rebound. He struck the woodwork again in the second half, scrambling a right-footed shot that hit Semi Ajayi (£4.8m) on its way.
WERNER AND MOUNT COMBINE
Timo Werner’s (£9.2m) barren spell in front of goal continued here, now with one league goal in 1,440 minutes. Tuchel started him as a show of faith after his horrific miss for Germany against North Macedonia and the striker at least managed to assist the consolation goal of Mason Mount (£7.1m).
4-1 down, Alonso’s cross found Werner very close to goal and, perhaps low on confidence, he chose to unselfishly square the ball for a Mount tap-in. It was the fourth goal in eight matches for Mount, also benched by Tuchel after playing 225 minutes during the international break.
His price has risen three times in recent weeks and is a known favourite of Tuchel. After such an astonishing defeat here, Mount will now be relied upon by both his real-life and Fantasy managers.
Chelsea XI (3-4-3): Mendy; Azpilicueta, Thiago Silva, Zouma; James, Jorginho (Havertz 72’), Kovacic, Alonso; Ziyech (Christensen 33’), Pulisic (Mount 46’), Werner
West Bromwich Albion XI (5-4-1): Johnstone; Furlong, Ajayi, O’Shea (Ivanovic 24’ (Robinson 37’)), Bartley, Townsend; Phillips (Livermore 89’), Yokuslu, Maitland-Niles, Pereira; Diagne
Elsewhere in Gameweek 30
Leeds beat Sheffield United as expected on Saturday afternoon although it was largely a result that left Fantasy managers wondering what might have been.
Patrick Bamford (£6.7m) registered a blank while Raphinha (£5.7m) was subjected to another outing characterised by his colleagues missing key chances.
In the end, the Brazilian got one assist, was denied a goal by Phil Jagielka‘s (£3.9m) intervention on Jack Harrison‘s (£5.4m) cross, who was the only Leeds player involved in both goals at Elland Road.
Meanwhile, Stuart Dallas (£5.1m) was arguably one of the best players on the pitch but managed only two points in the end.
Not only did he miss two decent chances created by Raphinha, he also missed out on a clean sheet as Sheffield United scored a rare goal.
Ben Osborn‘s (£4.7m) first-half effort was the Blades’ seventh on the road this season.
Pep Guardiola was arguably the key man in Manchester City’s 2-0 win over Leicester as he rang the changes.
Ilkay Gündogan (£6.1m), John Stones (£5.3m) and João Cancelo (£6.1m) were all benched for Gameweek 30 and, thankfully for their owners, none of them took to the pitch for one-point cameos.
Raheem Sterling (£11.4m) emerged to get a second-half assist while Phil Foden (£6.1m) replaced Kevin De Bruyne (£11.9m) in the 88th minute and was unable to involve himself in the goals.
Ruben Dias (£6.1m) kept up his run of starts, making his eighth in a row and capitalising on Manchester City’s 17th clean sheet of the campaign.
Benjamin Mendy (£5.9m) got his second goal of the season while Gabriel Jesus (£9.2m) now has four in his last four starts.
Meanwhile, this match was also notable for the return of James Maddison (£7.1m) coming on as a 72nd-minute substitute for Marc Albrighton (£5.2m).