Chelsea Waste Chance to Cement Title Edge with Another Draw Against West Brom

Garry HayesFeatured ColumnistFebruary 11, 2014

AP Image

There's no guessing as to what Jose Mourinho's mood will be after watching his Chelsea side throw away a 1-0 lead late on against West Bromwich Albion on Tuesday.

"I'll be more disappointed if my team doesn't maintain its level than I will be if we don't win the title," he had commented in his pre-match press conference ahead of the trip to the Hawthorns.

Chelsea did exactly that, however.

Indeed, it was ironic that of all the teams to snatch a late point against the Blues this term, it would be the Baggies.

In November, Chelsea were the beneficiaries of some late drama at Stamford Bridge—Eden Hazard scoring a 90th-minute penalty to deny West Brom a historic win that would have seen them end Mourinho's unbeaten run at home.

Instead, they had to settle for a 2-2 scoreline.

WEST BROMWICH, ENGLAND - FEBRUARY 11:  Gareth McAuley of West Brom and Branislav Ivanovic of Chelsea compete for the ball during the Barclays Premier League match between West Bromwich Albion and Chelsea at The Hawthorns on February 11, 2014 in West Bromw
Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images

Three months on, it was Victor Anichebe having the last laugh, directing his header in off the post to seal a 1-1 draw for Pepe Mel's side after Branislav Ivanovic had given Chelsea the lead.

Up to that point Chelsea had been in control of proceedings and that will be Mourinho's biggest disappointment.

The Portuguese may be playing down his team's title credentials, yet we shouldn't let that fool us. Whether Mourinho is being truthful in his assessment or not, he will want to claim a third Premier League crown more than anyone, so drawing against a side battling against relegation will be a major frustration.

Especially when his team dominated.

The true impact of Chelsea's draw with West Brom will only be felt when we learn the outcome of Arsenal's clash with Manchester United on Wednesday, while Manchester City entertain Sunderland at Etihad Stadium.

Rui Vieira/Associated Press

A win for either will knock the Blues off their perch as Premier League leaders, ensuring the balance of power shifts once more in this exciting race for first.

A defeat for one or both, however, and suddenly it will prove a good day at the office.

Things needn't hang in the balance like that, however.

On the back of a fine display against Newcastle United at the weekend, this was a considerable test for Mourinho's Blues, a chance to drive home their psychological advantage.

It was the first time in a long while they had led the pack, but rather than rising to the occasion, they failed to make their superiority count.

Could it be they prefer being the hunter rather than the hunted?

There is often the notion that it is easier to be chasing than leading in a title race, and on Tuesday's evidence, perhaps it is the former that suits this team more.

WEST BROMWICH, ENGLAND - FEBRUARY 11:  Youssuf Mulumbu of West Brom tackles Fernando Torres of Chelsea  during the Barclays Premier League match between West Bromwich Albion and Chelsea at The Hawthorns on February 11, 2014 in West Bromwich, England.  (Ph
Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images

Of course, with 12 games remaining, picking up a solitary point is far from a catastrophe for Chelsea. After all, they still have to entertain Arsenal at Stamford Bridge before the season is out, while the Gunners themselves face City in late March.

More points are going to be dropped by all three teams along the way and there will be other opportunities for the Blues to strike a blow—they just have to hope either City or Arsenal, or the ever-improving Liverpool for that matter, haven't done so before them.

In the immediate aftermath of this result, the Blues will be kicking themselves. All the hard work up to now runs the risk of being wasted. Breaking City's winning streak at home, denying Liverpool and not winning the games they should, it takes the shine off all the good they have achieved.

Chelsea missed an opportunity against West Brom to cement their superiority. If the chance arises again, they must be far more ruthless.


Garry Hayes is Bleacher Report's lead Chelsea correspondent and will be following the club from a London base throughout the 2013-14 season. Follow him on Twitter here @garryhayes.