Chelsea 2-2 West Bromwich Albion: 6 Things We Learned
Chelsea welcomed West Bromwich Albion to Stamford Bridge on Remembrance weekend. After the minute's silence had been respectfully observed, the match that followed should live long in the memories of the Chelsea players.
The home side dominated the first half without exerting themselves too much and were rewarded before the break with a typical Samuel Eto'o goal. The striker snuck in behind Liam Ridgewell to poach his third goal in four days, giving Chelsea the lead at halftime.
However, the plan went awry after the break when Shane Long took advantage of the Chelsea defence's ball-watching to head home after Petr Cech's punched clearance failed to clear the bar. The home side were behind when Stephane Sessegnon's shot ambled slowly underneath Cech, and it looked increasingly likely that Jose Mourinho would suffer his first Premier League defeat at Stamford Bridge in his 100th game in charge at the ground.
The record was saved in controversial circumstances, as a last-minute penalty was awarded after Steven Reid was judged to have fouled Ramires in the box. Eden Hazard justified his return to the squad by calmly slotting home, giving the Blues a point that had looked well beyond their reach.
Here are six things we learned from this 2-2 draw.
Statistics are taken from whoscored.com
Steve Clarke Set His Side Up to Win
Steve Clarke spent three seasons as Jose Mourinho's assistant at Stamford Bridge between 2004-07. He obviously learned a lot from The Special One in that time, as he was never looking to just avoid defeat.
West Brom had a couple of decent chances in the first half before Samuel Eto'o scored at the stroke of halftime. The Baggies weren't deflated by this, and they pressed hard from the start of the second half.
Even after Shane Long's leveller they continued to hassle Chelsea's midfield, only deploying the "park the bus" tactic when they were leading with 20 minutes to go.
Chelsea Need to Regain Their Control and Composure
Despite having 68 percent of the possession, Chelsea became complacent and turned the ball over seven times in midfield. This poor control from Ramires and Eden Hazard in particular caused plenty of problems for the Blues, and they will need to improve their composure in high-tempo games.
Chelsea Need to Use the Middle of the Park More Efficiently
Chelsea use the middle of the pitch to recycle possession, preferring it about at the back or in the final third. However, that midfield corridor caused them all sorts of problems against West Brom. Frank Lampard was doing a decent job of shielding the defence until he was substituted for Demba Ba.
The tactical change made sense as Chelsea went in search of a winner, but it left Ramires as the holding midfielder.
Nobody can fault the Brazilian's industry and effort; however, he lacked purpose and lost possession too often. His introduction of Mikel did little to change this as he seemed unsure of whether to close his opponents down or make the tackle.
Cesar Azpilicueta Should Be Mourinho's Next Untouchable
Dave got his first premier league start of the season ahead of Ashley Cole and seized the opportunity to continue his impressive form. He made four successful tackles and an interception as well as four ball recoveries.
His passing was 90 percent accurate, and at this rate, he could find his move to left back made permanent.
Mourinho Rode His Luck to Keep His Record
Chelsea's attitude and ambition were better than in their defeat at Newcastle, but they were incredibly lucky to take a point from this game. At 2-1 down they threw everything forward, and by the 80th minute the only player left in the Chelsea half was Petr Cech.
They could have been caught out on the break and were handed a lifeline when Chris Brunt shot over the bar, having completely outstripped John Obi Mikel.
Mourinho's desire to win has seen him make some risky tactical substitutions. They have paid off so far, turning defeat into victory at Norwich City and against Cardiff City at Stamford Bridge, and they rescued a last minute point again with three defenders. However, his team will need to be far more clinical against bigger opposition if they are to continue to mount a title challenge.
Chelsea Need to Work on Their Crossing
One of the main problems that Chelsea have encountered in recent years is their lack of width in attack. The three amigos all like to attack through the middle, which causes congestion and ultimately ends the attack.
Andre Schurrle and Willian were brought into the club to remedy this problem as out and out wingers. Hazard's return saw Schurrle benched while Willian moved across to the right. The Blues moved the ball out wide well, but their crossing was appalling.
Of 42 attempted crosses into the box, only five were successful, which is simply not good enough for a team of Chelsea's calibre.