The Baggies are preparing for what will be their toughest test yet before a string of games that have the potential to see Albion pick up their first points. But how will the team lineup? Will it be a case of damage limitation or will we see a switch back to a more familiar starting eleven ahead of more promising fixtures.
Albion host this window’s biggest spenders on Saturday who will arrive full of confidence following their 6-0 thrashing of Barnsley in the cup on Wednesday. Meanwhile, the Baggies are still craving that winning feeling after a cup exit on penalties to Brentford.
The midweek match did offer the chance to mix things up a little. Debuts were given to Gallagher and Ivanovic who both impressed with steady performances. Kipre also put in a good showing as Townsend filled in for Gibbs at left back.
Vital rests were given to most of the starting team from the game against Everton which suggests that there will be little changes to how we lineup against Chelsea.
Team News and Predicted XI
I am interested to see how Bilic will lineup. Everything suggests that he will go with a similar team to what has been used so far. The only notable difference will be the absence of Kieran Gibbs. This throws up the potential for change on two fronts.
Townsend will more than likely be a straight replacement for the suspended Gibbs. However, with Ivanovic impressing in the week he surely will be in contention to make a start against his former club. The experience he will bring might prove crucial. His inclusion would also likely see the use of three central defenders which would provide a further conundrum for Bilic over who to leave out.
The forward line we expect will remain fairly consistent. Unfortunately, Gallagher will be ineligible to play against his parent club, which will leave room for Sawyers, Livermore and the potential for the inclusion of Field in a deep lying defensive role.
I personally would like to see Bilic tweak the formation to a 4-3-3. It is a game that we do not have a great deal to lose from, and with fixtures against Southampton, Burnley, Brighton and Fulham on the horizon it is a chance to slot back into a more attacking formation in preparation for those games.
West Brom’s Predicted XI: (3-4-3)
The visitors come into the game after a tough defeat to Liverpool where they were never really at the races. The early dismissal of Christensen saw Chelsea struggle to impose themselves against a fluid Liverpool side.
However, they put things right in midweek with an emphatic victory over Barnsley in a game which saw debuts for Ben Chilwell and Thiago Silva, whilst Kai Havertz netted his first hat trick for the club.
Chelsea received another boost with the signing of French goalkeeper Edouard Mendy from Rennes. The Frenchman will be expected to take over first team duties from Kepa who has been blighted by recent mistakes.
The absence of Christensen has the potential to see a league debut given to Thiago Silva alongside Zouma who has featured in all matches so far. We expect Reece James to continue his flying start to the season at RB whilst Chilwell is certainly in contention to make another league debut at LB.
Kante who was rested during the midweek fixture will be primed to sit alongside what we think will be a midfield of Jorginho and Kovacic.
Prolonged injuries to Ziyech and Pulisic mean that Mount, Werner and Havertz are all likely to keep their place in the starting lineup. Werner, who is yet to find the net for Chelsea, will be targeting a good performance on Saturday. He is certain to get chances and will be looking to kickstart his goal-scoring campaign so will need to be monitored extremely closely.
Chelsea’s Predicted XI: (4-3-3)
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