Club News

Stat attack: Long's man for big occasion

Draw at Chelsea means figures stack up nicely for Baggies

FOR any team to return from Stamford Bridge and still be disappointed having picked up a point it means there is a good chance a lot of positives can be taken, and that's certainly true of Albion's performance at the weekend.

The Baggies came closer than any other side has managed to beating Chelsea on their own patch under Jose Mourinho in the Premier League, with more than a little reason to feel hard done by. 

Regardless, the 2-2 draw saw Steve Clarke's side continue an impressive run having lost just once in the last eight league matches after a slow start. A feat only Southampton can better in terms of defeats since gameweek four, with Arsenal and Everton the only other two sides to have lost just once in that time.

The point was also enough to maintain the Baggies’ decent away form, with Arsenal and Everton again the only two teams able to match Albion's record of losing just once in six away league games.
A closer look at the stats from shows how Clarke got his men up for the battle at the Bridge. 

Crucial to the Baggies success was goalscorer Shane Long, who has proven to be a thorn in Chelsea's side ever since moving to The Hawthorns. The Republic of Ireland international has now netted in three of his last four league starts against the Blues and he gave the hosts' centre-back pairing a torrid time once again on Saturday.

Having hit the post with a superb headed effort moments earlier, the forward rose highest to nod home a second-half equaliser after Gareth McAuley's initial effort was parried skyward by Petr Cech.

Nevertheless it wasn't just in terms of efforts at goal that Long impressed in the air, winning six aerial duels up against the physically imposing John Terry and Gary Cahill; the former of the Chelsea duo won just 50 per cent of his aerial duels in the game, while Cahill's success rate was lower still at 40 per cent.

The 26-year old is clearly a fan of the big occasion and has netted for the club against the likes of Manchester United, Manchester City, Arsenal and rivals Villa, with Paul Lambert's side next up for Albion after the international break.

While Long was ensuring Chelsea's defence had a real battle on their hands, the Baggies' partnership of Jonas Olsson and McAuley were imperious at the other end. Between them, Terry and Cahill won just seven of 15 aerial duels. Meanwhile, at the opposite end the aforementioned Baggies pairing won 13 out of 15 in comparison.

Clarke's side's willingness to battle at both ends so nearly earned them all three points at the weekend and the manager will no doubt hope for more of the same in a passionate West Midlands derby a fortnight from now.

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