Supporters of Chelsea have this evening pleaded with manager Antonio Conte to move forward over the coming weeks with a pair of players omitted from the club’s starting lineup.
The two sides went head to head at Stamford Bridge, with Antonio Conte’s men desperate for all 3 points following a dismal run of form which saw the Blues fall to consecutive 3-goal defeats at the hands of Bournemouth and Watford.
West Brom, meanwhile, had fallen to defeats in their last 2 Premier League outings, the latter of which came in hugely disappointing fashion at home to fellow strugglers Southampton.
Ahead of tonight, the Baggies sat rock bottom of the English top-flight table, a full 5 points behind 19th-placed Stoke City.
The lineups for tonight’s crucial matchup were announced an hour prior to kick-off, with a number of notable inclusions and absences for hosts Chelsea.
Andreas Christensen returned to the heart of the Blues’ defence following a spell on the sidelines, while Olivier Giroud earned his first start for the Premier League champions up front.
Cesc Fabregas was also included from the start, stepping in for the suspended Tiemoue Bakayoko, while Alvaro Morata was fit enough for a place on the Chelsea bench.
However, Marcos Alonso was a notable absentee, with the Spaniard having been a surprise late scratch from the Blues’ squad for their clash with Watford last week as a ‘precautionary measure’.
Team to face WBA: Courtois; Azpilicueta (c), Christensen, Rudiger; Moses, Kante, Fabregas, Zappacosta; Pedro, Giroud, Hazard.
— Chelsea FC (@ChelseaFC) February 12, 2018
West Brom boss Alan Pardew, meanwhile, opted for the following, with Daniel Sturridge joining Salomon Rondon in a dangerous-looking forward line for the Baggies:
— West Bromwich Albion (@WBA) February 12, 2018
However, in a massive blow for the visitors with just 2 minutes on the clock, Danny Sturridge went to ground clutching his hamstring following an innocuous challenge from Cesar Azpilicueta, with the 28-year-old eventually succumbing to the problem and making his way down the Stamford Bridge tunnel with frustration etched across his face.
Following a shaky opening quarter of an hour for Chelsea, the Blues began to take firm control of proceedings as the half wore on, with Eden Hazard looking particularly dangerous.
And it was the brilliant Belgian who went on to break the deadlock with 25 minutes on the clock, playing a neat one-two with Olivier Giroud on the edge of the West Brom box before rifling home a perfect finish into the bottom-left corner of Ben Foster’s goal.
The second-half saw the home side maintain their dominance, with Victor Moses handing the Premier League champions a deserved second after Cesc Fabregas’ pass landed fortuitously at the feet of the Nigerian inside the West Brom box.
And Eden Hazard soon put the game firmly to bed with his brace and Chelsea’s 3rd of the night, picking up the ball on the right corner of the Baggies’ box before cutting inside and drilling a wonderful finish with his left foot past the wrong-footed Ben Foster.
It was a much-needed performance and result for Antonio Conte’s men, with droves of Chelsea’s fans having since taken to social media to point to the fact that neither Gary Cahill or Tiemoue Bakayoko were included from the start this evening, a factor which many believe played a huge part in the Blues’ change of fortunes.
As such, with Spanish giants Barcelona set to travel to Stamford Bridge next week in the last 16 of the Champions League, the Blues’ faithful have pleaded with their manager to continue without the duo moving forward:
We are a better team without Gary Cahill and Bakayoko
— ETYNOBA (@etyn_oba) February 12, 2018
I hope Conte has seen that this team doesn’t need Bakayoko and Cahill to be great!
He better learn
— Es (@slkie) February 12, 2018
No Cahill and Bakayoko, no problems.
— Damoo (@Denock__) February 12, 2018
— Chelsea_24 (@Chelsea47556322) February 12, 2018
It’s not rocket science. Cahill and Bakayoko have been the obvious weak links.
— Tee™ (@T_blinxx) February 12, 2018
How nice to watch a Chelsea match without Cahill and Bakayoko
— Alvin (@So_Damn_Trill) February 12, 2018
No Cahill and Bakayoko?
We play well. What a coincidence!
— ƝѺλH (@WiIIixn) February 12, 2018
No Cahill ✔
No Bakayoko ✔
No Alonso ✔
Azpilicueta captain ✔
Giroud starting ✔
Fabregas starting ✔
Hazard given a free role ✔
Giroud bursting brain.😜
— Wilson Oreoluwa (@Oreoluwabee) February 12, 2018
@ChelseaFC I just realized today that bakayoko and Cahill has been our problem for some weeks running. This is a decent performance and I appreciate the effort of the whole starting lineup. They have been 8/10 in my rating.
— iheoha dunstan (@chidunstan) February 12, 2018
If this coach ever start Gary Cahill and Bakayoko ever again. Sack him
— ETYNOBA (@etyn_oba) February 12, 2018
THIS IS WHAT HAPPENS WHEN CAHILL AND BAKAYOKO DONT PLAY 🗣🗣🗣
— 🌊 (@Germanilloy) February 12, 2018
Cahill and Bakayoko should be nowhere near Chelsea’s first team tbh
— George (@George__O) February 12, 2018