West Brom 2 Chelsea 3: How West Brom could have beaten the champions at the Hawthorns

ANALYSIS: We've teamed up with Sports Interactive, the makers of Football Manager, to re-run one of the weekend's key games to see how the losers might have prevailed had they done things differently

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The Independent Online

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?

THE RE-RUN

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.

 

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.

Costa.jpg

 

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.

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