Chelsea managed to collect all three points at the weekend with a 3-2 win over West Brom, but it needed a back-to-the-walls performance following a red card for captain John Terry. The Baggies impressed at the Hawthorns, but didn't quite do enough. So what could Tony Pulis have done differently to win the match?
With Chelsea's formation remaining the same, Sports Interactive simulated the game over again with various West Brom line-ups and tactics until it produced an alternative result.
West Brom formation: 4-1-4-1
Re-run line-up: Myhill, Dawson, McAuley, Lescott, Olsson, Yacob, McManaman, Morrison, Fletcher, McClean, Rondon (CHANGES FROM ACTUAL LINE UP: Lescott in; Brunt out)
Final Score: West Brom 1-0 Chelsea (Scorer: Rondon)
West Brom are able to sneak a victory over Chelsea, even with John Terry on the pitch for the entire ninety minutes. West Brom’s tactics are designed to frustrate Chelsea and allow West Brom to launch frequent, fast counter attacks. Pulis’ game-plan works perfectly and Chelsea often find themselves stretched trying to defend the counter after over-committing men forward.
Claudio Yacob is a particularly important figure for the Baggies as he puts in a committed performance in defensive midfield and is the player that instigates the majority of West Brom’s counter attacks. His match stats show just how important he is to their success: sixty-six per cent pass completion, two key passes, two interceptions and three tackles won.
West Brom 2 Chelsea 3 player ratings
West Brom 2 Chelsea 3 player ratings
1/22 West Brom: Myhill
The goalkeeper conceded three goals, but was let down by his defence. 6
A central defender by trade but playing at right back, he struggled to cope with Hazard’s pace but got involved with West Brom’s attacks when he could. 5
Costa got the better of the Northern Ireland international time and time again, and after the centre-back had lost his battle with the striker, it allowed Costa to set up Azpilicueta for Chelsea’s third. 4
The Sweden international couldn’t deal with the pace of Pedro in the build-up to the winger’s opening goal. 4
The left winger, who has been used at left back under Pulis, came close to equalising with a late shot that went high but he was exploited by Pedro throughout the game. 4
It was his run forwards that allowed Willian to get in behind him and set up Costa for his goal. Was lacking in pace in opener as Willian got past him to make it 2-0. 5
The winger’s pace caused Azpilicueta all sorts of problems and after skipping past the left-back, he was brought down by Matic for the penalty. He also provided the cross for Morrison’s second goal. 7
West Brom’s longest-serving player made up for his missed penalty by scoring twice in what was a positive showing for the midfielder. 8
Worked hard in midfield to combat Fabregas’ influence but failed to fully protect his back line. 5
Was dangerous for West Brom and it was his good work that allowed him to get past Ivanovic and create Morrison’s second goal. 6
Looked sharp on his debut and it was his overhead kick that set up Morrison for his goal. Didn’t get on the scoresheet but was a threat up front for the home side. 7
12/22 Chelsea: Courtois
Remained calm in goal despite the end-to-end nature of the match, saving Morrison's early penalty before making several late saves to ensure the win. 7
Did better on the right flank than against Manchester City last week, but Chelsea’s vice-captain was beaten too easily by McClean for West Brom’s first goal before McManaman got the better of him for the home side’s second. 4
Provided strength in central defence and made some good early tackles. 6
After being the subject of headlines following his substitution against City, the Chelsea skipper let himself down when he saw red for failing to keep up with Rondon before pulling the striker back while he was through on goal. 4
Helped restore Chelsea’s two-goal lead with his strike just before the break, but was beaten too easily by McManaman in the lead-up to West Brom’s penalty as he struggled with his defensive duties. 7
It was the Spaniard’s lofty pass that instigated the move that led to Azpilicueta’s goal, and the midfielder continued providing accurate passes to help build-up Chelsea’s attacks as the game went on. 7
Clumsily brought down McManaman to give away the penalty but was let off the hook when Courtois saved the resulting spot-kick. He didn’t look as strong in midfield as usual, and couldn’t contend with Morrison’s strength for West Brom’s second goal. 5
Made a great run on the counter to set up Chelsea’s second goal and should have scored just before the break but drove high. Another good performance with a high work rate against West Brom. 7
The Belgian looked back to his best against West Brom as he set up Pedro for the opener and used his pace to cause the home side’s defence problems. 7
Chelsea’s man of the match. The winger seemed at ease on his Premier League debut scoring a goal and setting up Diego Costa’s strike. His pace on the right and his superb crosses will prove dangerous for Chelsea this season. 8
His goal was the icing on the cake for the striker, who enjoyed a very good performance up front. Costa looked dangerous throughout and really should have bagged a brace in the second half but drove high with time and space. 8
The rest of West Brom’s defence perform admirably with Jonas Olsson restricting Chelsea’s new boy Pedro to a handful of half-chances. On the opposite flank, Craig Dawson wins five tackles against Eden Hazard as the PFA Player of the Year has a quiet game by his standards. McAuley and Lescott find themselves embroiled in a series of physical encounters with Diego Costa and over the course of the match Costa concedes seven fouls to the two Baggies centre-backs, earning himself a yellow card.
Further forward, James Morrison and Callum McManaman are West Brom’s best creative options as they supply all four of West Brom’s key passes. McManaman leaves Ivanovic chasing shadows as he mixes up his play on the wing, switching between running at Ivanovic, playing the quick cross and completing a simple sideways pass to Morrison. McManaman’s sixty-six per cent cross completion rate and five successful dribbles show just how much success he enjoyed against Ivanovic.
It’s Salomon Rondon who puts in the Man of the Match performance though. He dominates proceedings in the final third and tests Courtois on three occasions before breaking the deadlock midway through the second half. The goal typifies his afternoon – he latches onto a incisive pass from Morrison, beats Terry and fires the ball into the top corner from the edge of the area past the onrushing Courtois.
Following the goal, Chelsea briefly threaten to take a point but a couple of smart saves from Myhill deny Willian and Costa in quick succession.
Football Manager uses a vast database - compiled by approximately 1,300 researchers across the world (including real-life scouts) - to blend reality and fiction. So impressive is the information that it has become a tool used by real life managers. The painstakingly detailing simulation of club management, which allows players to control every aspect of a manager's role, from scouting new player to tactics and training, has sold millions of copies worldwide.