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Jose Mourinho can rely on Eden Hazard to make the difference at West Brom

21 Aug | BY Betway | MIN READ TIME |
Jose Mourinho can rely on Eden Hazard to make the difference at West Brom

Much has been made of the signing of Pedro, but the Belgian playmaker remains the champions' outstanding player

Jose Mourinho was overt in his praise for Tony Pulis when his Chelsea side, who had already been crowned Premier League champions, were beaten 3-0 at West Brom last season.

While the Portuguese would never speak with such warmth about a manager who was a genuine threat to his own chances of success, his respect towards the man who shares his enthusiasm for pragmatism is sincere.

But do not expect that buddy-cop rapport to continue if his team – having made their worst start to a season for 17 years, fail to register a victory at the Hawthorns on Sunday.

Already five points behind new 5/4 title-favourites Manchester City, Chelsea cannot really afford to cede any more ground to their rivals.

Mourinho will be counting on his players to rediscover the resolve that was prevalent throughout their title-winning campaign in what will be his 300th game in charge of the London club.

Much has been made of the signing of Pedro from Barcelona this week, but Eden Hazard remains their outstanding player.

It is no coincidence that the Belgian’s indifferent beginning to the campaign has coincided with his club’s less-than-stellar start.

But Hazard, who is one goal shy of 50 for the champions, has too much quality to be below his best for much longer and is 8/1 to score first in a Chelsea win.

It will not be an easy game, though, and West Brom have reasons to be optimistic.

Their recent record against Chelsea at home is excellent – they are unbeaten in four games, winning three – and are 5/1 to secure another unlikely victory.

Saido Berahino may well join Tottenham before the transfer window closes, but he remains crucial to West Brom’s chances for now.

Seventeen of Berahino’s 20 goals last season came at the Hawthorns – including two in that 3-0 triumph in May – and the striker is 28/1 to repeat that feat and 4/1 to score anytime.

The difference in circumstances between that fixture and the one on Sunday, though, is vast.

Then, the Chelsea players knew the result was irrelevant – a subconscious title-winning state of mind that was reflected in their vacant display.

That level of performance will not be tolerated this time around.

It might not be fluent, but expect Mourinho’s side to secure their first win of the season.

And, at the game’s end, for an affable handshake to be offered to Pulis.

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