In their last five games of the season West Bromwich Albion had a mountain to climb.
They had to face Liverpool, Manchester United, Newcastle, Chelsea and Arsenal – three out of the five were in the top four, one were fighting to get into the top four before the end of the season, and the last team were embroiled in a relegation battle they were desperate to get out of.
Not an easy task for any team in the closing weeks. But were West Brom underestimated ahead of their final run-in?
Absolutely. They recorded some big wins over teams that were meant to be a ‘cert’ to beat them. First up were Liverpool, who were looking to gain points in order to gain a top four place ahead of bitter rivals Manchester United. But they were held to a goaless draw at The Hawthornes.
Tony Pulis and his side then had to travel to Old Trafford. Manchester United have tried to reclaim their home ground as the fortress it once was under Sir Alex Ferguson, which was utterly destroyed under Moyes. They hit a good run in the second half, recording home wins, but they could not stop West Brom from scoring.
West Brom’s goal came from a free kick, and although United were granted a penalty, it was saved. So the Baggies walked away with three points, and the 40 point safety mark.
Their next opponents were a very much in trouble – Newcastle United. Anichebe opened up the scoring, but Perez equalised less than 10 minutes later. Both teams needed points – Newcastle more so – and both got what they needed. It was at this point that ensured West Brom were definitely out of the relegation rat race, and deservedly so.
Next up were the champions Chelsea. The Blues were the most consistent team in the league all season, and the last time they had lost a league game was back in January in their humiliating defeat at White Hart Lane.
But West Brom managed to get three past Chelsea. Saido Berahino scored first within the first 10 minutes, and was granted a penalty very early into the second half following a challenge by John Terry. Chris Brunt hit one home after an hour and that was it. Chelsea couldn’t stop them, and West Brom were running rings around the Champions.
On the last day of the season West Brom didn’t have the same kind of luck. They lost 4-1 at the Emirates, where Theo Walcott scored a hattrick for the Gunners.
Their five game unbeaten run may have ended, but they had some seriously good games and results under their belt, and finished the season in 13th place.
They may have been tipped to fall at the mercy of the Premier League big boys, but they got the results they needed and secured Premier League safety in the process.
Who could have foreseen the damage they would do to Mourinho’s men?