West Brom vs. Chelsea: Recent Slump Makes Match a Must-Win for Blues

Rob GoldbergFeatured ColumnistNovember 16, 2012

LONDON, ENGLAND - OCTOBER 28:  Ramires of Chelsea celebrates his goal with Juan Mata during the Barclays Premier League match between Chelsea and Manchester United at Stamford Bridge on October 28, 2012 in London, England.  (Photo by Michael Regan/Getty Images)
Michael Regan/Getty Images

In the last two weeks, Chelsea has dropped from the top spot in the English Premier League to third place. If this club is not careful, things can get much worse.

The last three league matches for the Blues have resulted in a loss and two draws. To make matters worse, two of these took place at home at Stamford Bridge.

Although the hamstring injury to star midfielder Juan Mata hurt the team against Swansea City, he has played since and looks to be near full strength.

Another excuse for the recent struggles could be the hectic schedule. Including Champions League and the Capital One Cup, Chelsea has played seven matches in 23 days. This is enough to cause any team to struggle with fatigue.

Fortunately, there was a break in play and the squad had almost a full week to recuperate for the upcoming match. 

That next match is a big one. The Blues have to travel to The Hawthorns to face West Bromwich Albion, a club that has performed much better than expected in this young season. So far, it has earned 20 points in 11 matches and is contending for one of the prestigious spots in the Champions League. 

A year ago, West Brom was only 10th in the EPL and finished with a negative goal differential, so there have been some improvements.

If the home team is able to come out with a win, it would stand only one point behind Chelsea in the league table.

However, this game is more than just about points. There is plenty of time in the remainder of the season for the Blues to make up for a loss or draw. Still, the club needs to get back on the winning track.

The defense has not had a clean sheet in over a month—a span of eight games. This, combined with the inconsistent play of the front line, is bound to cause some problems.

Chelsea needs this game to get confidence and momentum back on its side. There is a lot on the line in the next couple of weeks, and the club needs complete focus.

Otherwise, it can start to fall too far behind in the EPL and it will be too difficult to recover.

After winning the Champions League last season, expectations have never been higher. Another sixth-place finish would be completely unacceptable. 

In order to keep everyone calm at Stamford Bridge, the Blues need to come back from this weekend with three points.