Nov 17 2012 By Dan Levene
West Bromwich Albion 2–1 Chelsea
CHELSEA crashed to dour defeat at The Hawthorns - conceding sloppy goals in the early stages of both halves.
Blues looked like they had lost their way for much of a game where they created little, and succumbed to far too many defensive mishaps.
Chelsea started with an under-strength XI due to what boss Roberto Di Matteo suggested was the the pointless schedule of mid-week international friendlies.
Ramires, Oscar and Juan Mata all started on the bench, making way for Oriol Romeu, Daniel Sturridge and Victor Moses.
An early chance for Ryan Bertrand, in for the recovering Ashley Cole, was cleared of the line by Lian Ridgewell.
But the first decisive impact was at the other end. James Morrison, in far too much space on the left corner of the Chelsea box, put in a cross for Shane Long – homing-in on the far post. Long turned David Luiz with ease to head past Petr Cech.
Chelsea looked lost - uninspiring going forward, largely unreassuring going back. They laboured with the ball, at one stage, provoked a rare, desperate first half cry of 'attack, attack, attack-attack-attack-attack' from the visiting crowd.
They responded not much later, with a bit of old-style play that couldn't be further from the tiki-taka of the season's start.
With five minutes remaining of the half, Cesar Azpilicueta put in a cross from the right to meet the rising Eden Hazard on the far post - the Belgian heading in off a slight deflection from Billy Jones.
Having conceded at the start of the first half, Chelsea continued a recent trend by also conceding at the start o the second.
Long, on the Chelsea left, drew Luiz out wide, before putting a cross into the rising Peter Odemwingie for a simple header past Cech.
Chelsea, facing defeat for the first time with 11 men in the league, belatedly brought on the first team, with Juan Mata and Oscar coming on for the exceptionally poor Fernando Torres, and the not much better Oriol Romeu. Torres, in particular, trudged off with a loo of resignation on his face.
But still little transpired for the European Champions. They huffed and puffed, but never managed to blow the Baggies' house in.
Two late chances for Daniel Sturridge went close – closer than Torres managed all day – but not close enough.
At the last, desperation bore out, and Cech went up for a Chelsea corner – again coming closer than Chelsea's number nine.
Chelsea seem to have lost that winning feeling in the league of late. Manchester City visit Stamford Bridge next Sunday.