West Brom vs. Chelsea: Back the Blues to Score at the Hawthorns

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After a two-year stint in the Championship, West Bromwich Albion is back in the Premier League. The club gained automatic promotion by finishing second  last season in the second-tier league. However, it was by the narrowest of margins,  just two points ahead of Brentford and Fulham. However, life in the Premier League looks like it might be short-lived after getting blown out by a combined score of 8-2 in their first two matches.

Chelsea was perhaps the busiest team in the world in the transfer market this offseason, bringing in four high-quality players for a combined $246 million. However, Liverpool reminded the Blues that they are still the Premier League Champions on Sunday, winning 2-0 at Stamford Bridge. This new-look Chelsea team will need find some consistency sooner rather than later if they are going to contend for the Premier League title.

For the last decade, the Magpies have been known for their defense. However, the reason they were promoted this time around was due to their offense. West Brom averaged 1.64 xG per match, which was a drastic increase from their 2018-19 xG average of 1.31 per match. The Magpies added three wingers for a combined $24 million during the transfer window, with the hope they can continue that scoring rate at this elite level.

Expected goals (also known as xG) is an advanced statistic that gives an indication of whether results are based on sustainable factors like a steady creation of scoring chances, or whether it is down to aspects such as luck or outstanding goalkeeping.

However, they did not look competitive in their first two matches against Leicester and Everton. Expected goals tell the same story, as they were outscored 6.75 xG to 0.81 xG. Now they will have to face a top-four offense in the Premier League that averaged over 2 expected goals per match last year.

Based on historical averages, newly promoted teams have not fared well defensively in their first season. In fact, teams’ expected goals allowed per match go up 60% when transitioning from the Championship to the Premier League. It’s hard to imagine West Brom will be able to stop Chelsea’s explosive attack on Saturday.

Chelsea splashed a lot of cash around the transfer market this summer, bringing in Timo Werner (RB Leipzig), Hakim Ziyech (Ajax), Ben Chilwell (Leicester) and Kai Havertz (Leverkusen). All four are incredible young talents that have the potential to bolster Chelsea to the same level as Man City and Liverpool.

If Chelsea are going to challenge for the title, it’s going to be because of their offense. After the restart last season, the Blues averaged a whopping 2.24 xG per match, which was the second-best mark in the Premier League. That number should only increase with the additions they made over the offseason.

Matches involving Chelsea were high-scoring last season, totaling 3.09 xG per match. That total led to 84% of their away matches and 66% of their overall matches going over 2.5 goals. I expect another high-scoring affair on Saturday against West Brom’s shaky defense.

Chelsea should be able to run rampant over West Brom. The Magpies have not looked even remotely competitive and facing one of the most potent attacks in the Premier League is recipe for disaster. I am going to back Chelsea’s spread of -1.5 at +104 and Over 3 goals at +110.

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