Chelsea boss Jose Mourinho admitted he was unsurprised by his team’s surrender against West Brom last night, insisting such results are a byproduct of being crowned Premier League champions with games to spare.
England hopeful Saido Berahino took his tally for the season to 20 with two goals, either side of a bizarre red card for midfielder Cesc Fabregas, while Chris Brunt added a third for the rampant Baggies.
The loss was Chelsea’s third of the league campaign and ended their 16-game unbeaten run, while the margin equalled Mourinho’s heaviest defeat of his two stints in the Stamford Bridge hotseat.
“I cannot say it was a big surprise to me. I know the nature of the game. I know what normally happens when a team is champion with matches in hand to play,” said Mourinho.
“This is just an example of when you are champion so early it is difficult to keep the motivation and intensity high. When you lose that salt and pepper of the competition it’s difficult to compete at the highest level. For me, football is to be played at maximum intensity and maximum concentration and in our situation it is not easy to do that. The ideal scenario is to be champion and go home and not play again.
“I cannot blame my players. If we have to blame somebody we have to blame Manchester City, Manchester United, Arsenal and Liverpool because they let us win the title so early.”
West Brom were unbeaten in their last three Premier League matches against Chelsea at the start of play and were first to threaten in the fifth minute when Callum McManaman’s flashed effort from a tight angle was turned away by Thibaut Courtois.
The Baggies were not to be denied moments later as Berahino collected a pass from Joleon Lescott, swivelled into space to evade the attentions of Gary Cahill and curled home right-footed from outside the penalty area – his first strike in 10 appearances.
Chelsea were a man light on 30 minutes when Fabregas was shown a straight red card for kicking the ball into a melee of players and striking Brunt’s head, which followed an initial confrontation between the returning Diego Costa and Gareth McAuley.
Only Chelsea’s 17 could better West Brom’s pre-game total of 15 clean sheets this term and the visitors struggled to create openings in the remainder of the first half, although keeper Boaz Myhill was required to repel Filipe Luis’s free-kick.
This was only the third time Chelsea had trailed at the break this season but within two minutes of the re-start West Brom had extended their lead, as Berahino slotted a spot-kick past Courtois after being hauled down by John Terry. Striker Loic Remy struck the base of the post before Brunt crashed home a stinging strike at Courtois’s near post after a short corner routine with Craig Gardner.
ARE THE KIDS ALRIGHT? HOW PROSPECTS FARED
Comfortable in possession on his second Premier League start, although was slightly out of position for West Brom’s opener. Has certainly mastered the art of passing sideways. Lasted 73 minutes before being replaced by Nathan Ake. GRADE: B-
Returned to the club where he made a first-team debut aged 16 before a controversial move to Stamford Bridge. Became the 89th player used by Jose Mourinho at Chelsea. Replaced Loic Remy for final 11 minutes. No real contribution. GRADE: C-
The Holland Under-21 player was a 73rd minute replacement for fellow academy graduate Loftus-Cheek. Not too much impact in midfield. Ignominious moment came when nutmegged by strapping centre-half Jonas Olsson as West Brom pressed forward late on. GRADE: C+