His has been a career that has survived injury, scandal, Rafa Benitez and the limitless funds Chelsea have had to replace him over the last 12 years, so it would be unwise to write off John Terry as a footballer whose career should be talked about in the past tense anytime soon. He has proved to be the most durable of modern players but no-one could deny it has been a rough eight days.
Substituted at half-time against Manchester City last week, sent off against West Bromwich Albion today, he might be forgiven for thinking that someone is trying to tell him something. In the past he has ignored the voices that have told him he is too old or too slow to play this crazy game any longer and as the seasons have ticked on, he has been vindicated every time.
Even so, the ego will be hurting after this game, one in which he was sent off for bringing down Salomon Rondon, West Brom’s £12m man, as they ran towards goal together just before the hour. Tony Pulis said it was “harsh”. Jose Mourinho insisted that to discuss it would involve a whole wider thesis on the game itself and he was just not going to go there. For Terry it will mean more time out of the team, a possible appeal notwithstanding.
That was the human drama on a marvellous afternoon of five goals, a missed penalty, an absentee striker and a sparkling debut from Chelsea’s new £21.1m signing Pedro Rodriguez. The absentee was Saido Berahino who would now seem to be on his way out of West Brom this coming week although all Pulis would do was rage against a transfer window that does not close when the season begins.
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
It was a lot of entertainment from start to finish, with Chelsea hanging on for more than half an hour with ten men and Mourinho finishing the game by shouting into the microphone in his technical area. A strange way to end a frenetic afternoon in which everyone seemed to be feeling the stress as Chelsea fought their way to their first win of the season.
For Pulis, who was without Berahino in his matchday squad, it was a difficult result to take given how well his side played at times. He could blame James Morrison for a first half penalty that Thibaut Courtois saved but not too much because the Scot scored his team’s two goals. Calum McManaman continued Branislav Ivanovic’s difficult start to the season and Rondon was excellent as the sharp end of the home team’s attack.
Yet Chelsea are made of tough stuff and you could imagine that they were unwilling to have to face their manager at the end of the game without the three points. Mourinho projected the usual wronged-man schtick at the end of the game over his side’s second red card of the new season, but he could not conceal his relief that his players, even without Terry, had closed out the victory.
Pedro was as good as Manchester United must have feared he would be with a goal and an assist in the first half, and so much faith from Mourinho that he did not even substitute the winger in the post-red card reorganisation. Diego Costa scored his first of the season, and looked much more effective while not neglecting his quest to fight the world. Cesar Azpilicueta scored his first Premier League goal for the club.
Even so, the cracks are there in Chelsea and never more so than when they conceded a penalty on 13 minutes. There was a slight, indignant shake of the head from Mourinho on the touchline, but Mark Clattenburg had been right about this one and Nemanja Matic, who had thrust out a tired leg, did not bother with a protest.
McManaman was excellent, making the second goal as well and he might have been a better bet to take the penalty given his strong start. Morrison chose to strike it down the centre of the goal. Although Thibaut Courtois had already committed to his left, a leg thrust in the direction he had come from flicked the ball over the bar.
Chelsea had been on the rack for the first 20 minutes and then Pedro changed the game. He had demanded the ball at every opportunity throughout the first half and his goal came after an exchange of passes with Eden Hazard before he hit a shot that clipped off Jonas Olsson and went in.
If the Black Country summer rain and the close proximity of opposition players he may never have heard of before this afternoon were disquieting for Pedro, he did not show it. On 30 minutes it was his low ball across the face of the goal that Costa slid in to force over the line. It had begun with a fine ball from Ivanovic up to Willian. “Chelsea are back” sung the away fans, and in part it did look that way.
Except in defence, and in defensive midfield, where they continued to look like they were one misstep away from calamity. Kurt Zouma fell over in possession. Cesc Fabregas passed the ball carelessly. Rondon managed to hook back James McClean’s cross on 35 minutes for Morrison to finish sharply.
Again, West Brom had demonstrated that there were weaknesses in this Chelsea team but they could not press home their point. Azpilicueta scored the third when the ball bounced loose from what looked like a foul by Craig Dawson on Costa on 42 minutes.
Terry was sent off nine minutes into the second half for the denial of an obvious goalscoring opportunity, in this case a sharp pull down on the arm of Rondon as they chased the ball back towards the Chelsea goal. It was a close call but it looked like Rondon was just about to get to the ball before Courtois. Cue the usual indignation from Chelsea, and another extraordinary twist in the tale.
Five minutes later a back header from Morrison, made by McManaman who crossed from the left, gave West Brom their second goal of the game and Chelsea were under pressure.
This was all good stuff, and really it was in the next ten minutes that the two best chances came for West Brom to equalise through Rondon and then McManaman. At the other end Radamel Falcao replaced Costa and missed a good chance presented by Pedro’s ball in. Chelsea had come up with an answer to their current problems, but the solution still feels temporary at best.
West Bromwich Albion (4-1-4-1): Myhill; Dawson, McAuley, Olsson, Brunt; Yacob; McManaman, Fletcher, Morrison (Gardner, 88), McClean (Lambert, 60); Rondon.
Substitutes not used: Rose (gk), Chester, Lescott, Anichebe, Gnabry.
Chelsea (4-2-3-1): Courtois; Ivanovic, Zouma, Terry, Azpilicueta; Fabregas, Matic; Pedro (Mikel, 84), Willian (Cahill, 56), Hazard; Costa (Falcao, 77).
Substitutes not used: Begovic (gk), Traore, Remy, Loftus-Cheek.
Booked: West Brom McClean, Olsson, McManaman Chelsea Matic
Sent off: Terry
Referee: M Clattenburg
Man of the match: PedroReuse content