Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 30 November 2020

Tammy Abraham engineers Chelsea's great escape against West Brom

Frank Lampard's team manage a draw after being 3-0 down

Big spenders, big comeback. Big problems, too, because while Chelsea merit credit for claiming a point after 3-0 down, it should obscure the way they created their own difficulties.

Tammy Abraham capped a wonderful fightback with an injury-time equaliser to deny West Bromwich Albion their first win since returning to the Premier League, yet Chelsea’s defensive failings meant they needed an act of escapology.

They got one, thanks to three products of their prolific academy. Abraham had missed a sitter when they were 1-0 down but managed a tap-in after Sam Johnstone parried Mason Mount’s late shot.

The midfielder, who had been Chelsea’s finest player, started the comeback. Moved into the centre of midfield when Frank Lampard removed Marcos Alonso and Mateo Kovacic at the break, he brought Chelsea back into the game with a swerving shot that left Johnstone motionless.

Callum Hudson-Odoi came off the bench and struck, playing a one-two with Kai Havertz before finding a precise finish. Chelsea’s pressure was unrelenting and eventually they got a reward.

Yet the reality was that two points were dropped. They were seconds from a second successive defeat, despite their £220 million (Dh1bn) outlay.

Some £70 million of that expenditure went on Ben Chilwell and Edouard Mendy and Chelsea wished the fit-again left-back and newly-acquired goalkeeper were deemed ready to start.

In Chilwell’s absence, Marcos Alonso was at fault for the first and third goals. Minus Mendy, and with Kepa Arrizabalaga presumably deemed unselectable, Willy Caballero played and conceded to Albion’s first three shots on target.

Thiago Silva did feature but his Premier League debut was a memorable affair for the wrong reasons; his hideous error brought Robinson’s second goal and was rather reminiscent of Steven Gerrard’s infamous slip against Chelsea in 2014.

But defensive difficulties, especially from set-pieces, have been a constant in Lampard’s tenure and if newcomers are expected to be upgrades, the lack of organisation was damning.

This began wonderfully for his former West Ham team-mate. Seven days earlier, Slaven Bilic had been sent off at half-time.

A week on, his side were 3-0 up at the break. While Albion are looking for a striker, the man leading the line staked his case to keep his place.

Callum Robinson’s only previous top-flight goal had come against Chelsea. He added two more. When Alonso gave the ball away to Matheus Pereira, he teed up Robinson, who struck with an angled drive.

A worse defensive error followed from a man of whom rather more was expected. Thiago captained Chelsea but led by the wrong sort of example with the most glaring of his team’s many mistakes.

He allowed Kovacic’s pass back to roll under his boot. Robinson anticipated it, accelerated away and doubled his tally. Then Darnell Furlong headed on a corner and Bartley, left unmarked by Alonso, finished with a smooth sidefoot at the far post. Game over? Not with this show of spirit from Chelsea.

Updated: September 26, 2020 10:44 PM

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