Thomas Tuchel experienced the first reality check of his Stamford Bridge revolution as Chelsea’s ten men were routed on Saturday afternoon by Sam Allardyce’s lowly West Brom, who hammered five goals past the hapless Blues.
A brace from Matheus Pereira and Republic of Ireland international Callum Robinson, along with a Mbaye Diagne goal, earned the relegation-threatened Baggies a stunning three points away to Tuchel’s high-flying Blues, bringing a stark end to the German boss’s unbeaten start since succeeding Frank Lampard in January.
Experienced Brazilian captain Thiago Silva, who was playing his first game in ten since suffering a thigh injury in early February, was issued with his marching orders just before the half-hour mark for collecting a second yellow card just two minutes after United States international Christian Pulisic had given Chelsea a 27th-minute lead, poking home after a Marcos Alonso free-kick rebounded into his path off the post.
Even down a man, Chelsea seemed to be in control of proceedings until Pereira’s quickfire double in first-half injury time gave West Brom a shock lead before the break – and it didn’t get much better for Chelsea in the second half.
A stunning volley from Robinson – whose five career Premier League goals have all come against Chelsea – added to West Brom’s advantage before Diagne stunningly slid home after another mix-up in the Blues’ back line.
Chelsea’s in-form Mason Mount, who replaced Pulisic at half-time, gave Tuchel’s side a glimmer of hope on 71 minutes but as the clock ticked ever nearer to 90 it became clear that Chelsea’s ten men were to suffer the sting of Premier League defeat for the first time under Tuchel’s leadership.
Robinson once again proved to be Chelsea’s boogeyman, lobbing a fifth over the advancing Edouard Mendy in stoppage time.
The loss is a seismic blow to Chelsea’s hopes of a top four finish which would guarantee Champions League football next season, with London rivals West Ham and Tottenham now in position to leapfrog the Blues at the business end of the Premier League standings.
“I don’t know why but it was like this,” Tuchel told broadcaster BT Sport afterwards. “After the red card, we could not adapt to the situations, we gave away two very easy goals before half-time but even in the second half anything that could go wrong went wrong.
“We have to accept a big loss today and hopefully it’s a big wake-up call for all of us, me included.”
cover image – Twitter @brfootball