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Chelsea-West Brom Preview
No club needs three points more than West Bromwich Albion, who are currently suffering through a nine-match winless run. However, it will be a significant challenge to get anything against Chelsea when the clubs meet Saturday at The Hawthorns.
A stretch of winless results since taking the first two matches of the Premier League campaign has West Brom (2-4-5) sitting in 16th place. Tony Pulis is a manager who has built his career on saving teams from relegation, and he appears to have his hands full again this term as West Brom are getting dangerously close to the bottom three.
Last time out, the Baggies failed to generate anything in the attack on their way to a 1-0 setback against 10-man Huddersfield Town. Pulis' players, to their credit, have remained positive in the face of adversity as midfielder Gareth Barry displayed.
"You can't get away from the run we're on," Barry said. "It's important that we try and put that right as quickly as possible so that's our target. Chelsea at home - the current champions - is obviously a tough game. You need that one little moment in a season that can turn things. What better game to do it than against them at home. You can kick on from then.
"We need one moment, a slice of luck that goes your way. It's easy to say that, but if you work hard you can get those little breaks. We have to keep believing in what we're doing. The quicker that happens the better."
Facing a reigning champion, however, has not been kind to West Brom. The Baggies have lost all 11 of the Premier League home matches against defending champions and been outscored 28-8 in those games.
Chelsea (7-1-3) find themselves in fourth place as they return from the international break. Antonio Conte's boys are aiming for their fourth straight Premier League win following a 1-0 result over Manchester United on Nov. 5. Alvaro Morata's 55th-minute strike proved to be the difference, and the former Real Madrid man seems to be returning to form after going scoreless in his last three matches.
The Spain international leads Chelsea with seven goals and three assists in 10 matches. He also has been directly involved in 10 goals in his first 10 league matches for the Blues. Only Diego Costa (11) has been better.
Keeper Thibaut Courtois made a pair of saves in the win over United and praised his team's effort.
"Obviously the three points was the most important thing, but to do it in the way we did was pleasing," he said. "We showed great character, a great mentality, we defended as a team and we stopped a lot of dangerous situations."
After failing to win in four visits to The Hawthorns between 2012-2015, Chelsea have since won back-to-back matches there, most recently in May when Michy Batshuayi scored to seal the title.
This will be Conte's 50th Premier League match as Chelsea coach. The Italian's side have earned more points (115) than any other since the start of last season.
Updated November 16, 2017