West Brom welcome champions Chelsea to The Hawthorns on Monday safe in the knowledge that they will be playing Premier League football next season.
A 1-1 draw at Newcastle United last Saturday, along with results elsewhere, guaranteed top-flight status for the Midlands outfit.
Tony Pulis was hired as head coach in January with Albion a point above the drop zone but he repeated the trick he mastered during spells with Stoke City and Crystal Palace by guiding them to safety.
Under Pulis, West Brom have secured 23 points from 16 Premier League matches and Jose Mourinho is full of praise for his opposite number – who earlier this week hailed the Portuguese as one of football’s greats.
“If I own an English club, I sign Tony Pulis,” Mourinho said. “It’s as simple as that – he’s a guarantee to achieve what the club wants.
“He has never managed a club that wants to be champion, never managed a club that wants top four, he is always managing clubs that want to survive and want stability.
“Tony is mathematics. His record is absolutely amazing.”
West Brom could face a re-shaped Chelsea attack, with Diego Costa in line to play for the first time since April 4 having recovered from a hamstring injury.
In his absence, Costa’s team-mates completed their march to the league title, but striking deputies Didier Drogba and Loic Remy only managed a solitary goal between them during this period.
Mourinho has stated that former West Brom youth star Isaiah Brown is poised to make his Chelsea debut, following in the footsteps of midfielder Ruben Loftus-Cheek, who impressed after being handed a start in last Sunday’s 1-1 draw with Liverpool.
The 19-year-old could feature once more as Ramires (illness), Kurt Zouma (knee) and Oscar (hip/thigh) remain on the sidelines, alongside second-choice goalkeeper Petr Cech (calf).
Ben Foster (knee) is the only absentee in an otherwise fully fit squad for Pulis, although there will be intrigue over whether Stephane Sessegnon is selected following reports of a falling out between the Benin international and his boss after he was omitted from the squad at St James’ Park.
If Chelsea avoid defeat at The Hawthorns they will break Manchester United’s record of the fewest losses in a Premier League season (five), which has stood since the 1998-99 campaign.
PFA and Football Writers’ Player of the Year and Eden Hazard is in line to make his 100th Premier League start for the London club.
- Soccer News Like
- Be the first of your friends!