Monday 19 August 2019

Pulis pushed closer to brink by four-star champions

West Brom 0 Chelsea 4

Tony Pulis has been axed as West Brom managar
Tony Pulis has been axed as West Brom managar

John Percy

Tony Pulis will have crunch talks with West Bromwich Albion today as he clings on to his job with the Premier League strugglers.

Pulis will meet chairman John Williams and it appears increasingly likely that the 59-year-old will be leaving, six weeks before his third anniversary in charge.

In a torrid run stretching back to last season, Albion have won just twice in 21 league games. Recent performances and the poisonous atmosphere created by supporters are forcing the board into reluctantly taking action.

Pulis endured fierce chants for his dismissal during much of Saturday's game. It is understood talks have already started over the terms of his departure.

This is arguably Albion's finest squad in the rebranded top flight, but they were poor here, lacking all the qualities Pulis teams are renowned for. After all, when a Pulis side can no longer defend, what is the point of a Pulis side? The statistics are damning too. Albion have not won in 11 games, have lost four on the spin and have averaged under a goal a match under Pulis.

They started well against Chelsea, but from the moment Alvaro Morata converted from close range, the game was over.

West Bromwich Albion's James McClean shoots at goal. Photo: REUTERS/Peter Nicholls
West Bromwich Albion's James McClean shoots at goal. Photo: REUTERS/Peter Nicholls

Brilliant

Chelsea were irresistible, inspired by the brilliant Eden Hazard and Cesc Fabregas, and have produced a defiant response to the dreadful Champions League night in Rome last month.

Hazard added the second goal to spark the first anti-Pulis chants, before Marcos Alonso killed off the game after 38 minutes. Hazard claimed the fourth and Chelsea were chomping on cigars for much of the second-half.

Conte's champions have won two league games in a row without conceding a goal since the 3-0 defeat at Roma and travel to Azerbaijan to face Qarabag in the Champions League on Wednesday, with the incentive of securing qualification to the knockout stage with a win.

Chelsea's Marcos Alonso scores their third goal. Photo: REUTERS/Peter Nicholls
Chelsea's Marcos Alonso scores their third goal. Photo: REUTERS/Peter Nicholls

However, manager Antonio Conte remains frustrated with the fixture schedule, as Chelsea have to make a long-haul flight to face Liverpool on Saturday evening.

"On Wednesday, we have to play the most important game of our season since the start," he said.

"That will be very important because in the period between now and January, the programme is very busy. To play two days later against Liverpool, it is a similar situation to the one we faced before Manchester City. I am not happy about this." (© Daily Telegraph, London)

Chelsea's Thibaut Courtois punches clear. Photo: REUTERS/Peter Nicholls
Chelsea's Thibaut Courtois punches clear. Photo: REUTERS/Peter Nicholls
Chelsea manager Antonio Conte celebrates after the match. Photo: REUTERS
Chelsea manager Antonio Conte celebrates after the match. Photo: REUTERS

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