Saturday afternoon sees West Bromwich travel south to Stamford Bridge, a game that ended in a 2-2 draw in early November last season following a very impressive display from the visitors, following on from their defeat of Manchester United at Old Trafford. A controversial Andre Marriner penalty awarded to the hosts in the fourth minute of extra time saw the Blues grind out an unlikely stalemate, leaving the Baggies still seeking a win at this ground since 1978.
Pepe Mel’s West Brom side will have been ruing their inability to hold up the ball when in possession and new boss Alan Irvine will be hoping for a repeat performance that saw them narrowly lose out on the three points, while Chelsea gaffer José Mourinho will no dount have learned some lessons from that close call.
To see how Chelsea fans may be thinking about this game, we looked at the Beat Your Manager! Fantasy Football data from this fixture last season, to see what players were picked for the lineup.
Beat Your Manager! Fantasy Football is a game similar to “Football Manager”, but applied to live football, where you manage your favourite Club and pick lineups, bench, formations and substitutions, all in real-time. When fans play the game, the Beat Your Manager team can measure the popularity of different players, by looking at how frequently they are selected for the starting lineup, substitutes bench or not selected at all.
The app ran for the 2013/4 EPL season and is currently inactive while the developers are creating the revised version – we’ll keep you posted on when it’s going to re-launch.
Formation: A solid 4-4-2 the choice for Chelsea fans
38 per cent Chelsea fans opted for a solid 4-4-2 formation for this game, with the next-most popular formation an attacking 4-3-3 (24 per cent), with the flexible double-pivot 4-2-3-1 in 3rd place, selected by 19 per cent of fans.
Goalkeeper: Cech the only choice for CFC fans
Petr Cech got a staggering 99 per cent rating with Blues fans for this game, making him Chelsea’s most popular player. Mourinho agreed with the fans, Cech starting the game between the posts.
Defence: Mourinho’s back four likely to be repeated
Branislav Ivanović was Chelsea’s most popular midfielder for this game, his 92 per cent rating making him the club’s 3rd-most popular player for this match.
John Terry (89 per cent) and David Luiz (83 per cent) were next in line with fans, with Ashley Cole (63 per cent) further behind.
Mourinho agreed with the fans on Ivanović and Terry, but fielded Gary Cahill (63 per cent fan rating) instead of Luiz and César Azpilicueta (only 8 per cent fan rating) instead of Cole.
With Luiz now at PSG and Cole at Roma, the composition of the fans’ back four will look different this year; whereas Mourinho can be expected to go with the same defensive line as before.
Midfield: Mata popular with fans, but Mourinho not one of them
Chelsea’s most popular midfielder for this game last season was Oscar, his 93 per cent rating from fans putting him just ahead of Ivanović in 2nd place with fans.
The club’s next most popular midfielders were all closely-rated by Blues fans; Frank Lampard (83 per cent), Ramires (81 per cent) and Juan Mata (78 per cent) all clearly ahead of the rest of the midfield lineup.
Mourinho agreed with fans on the first three midfielders, but this game was played during his period of excluding Mata last season and instead fielded Willian (11 per cent fan rating) instead of the Spaniard.
The departure of Frank Lampard to Man City means that Mourinho’s options are more limited this year, especially since Cesc Fabregas is in doubt for this game.
Forwards: Opening goalscorer not with the club anymore
Eden Hazard was Chelsea’s most popular forward and the club’s 4th-most popular player, scoring an impressive 90 per cent with fans as well as the last minute penalty that drew the game.
Although he is in doubt for this year’s match, André Schürrle (51 per cent) was the favoured second striker with Fernando Torres out injured.
Mourinho agreed with the fans on Hazard, but partnered the Belgian with Samuel Eto’o (43 per cent fan rating), who rewarded the Manager with a first-half goal.
Torres is now at AC Milan and will miss this fixture again, while Eto’o is now at Everton and won’t get a chance to reprise his goalscoring role. However, Diego Costa is expected to make an impact while Loic Remy can also be expected to feature.