Michy Batshuayi proves the unlikely hero for champions Chelsea
WEST BROMWICH, England -- Three quick thoughts from Chelsea's 1-0 victory over West Bromwich Albion on Friday night at The Hawthorns, which sees the West London club win their second Premier League title in three seasons.
1. Batshuayi the unlikely hero for champions Chelsea
It has taken a while for Michy Batshuayi to repay his £33 million transfer fee at Chelsea, but it is all about timing, and the Belgian forward's 82nd-minute winner against West Brom at The Hawthorns earned him the distinction of scoring the goal that sealed the Premier League title for Antonio Conte's team.
Batshuayi has been a huge disappointment at Stamford Bridge, with his late strike against Tony Pulis' men his first goal in the league since August. But just as it appeared likely that Chelsea would have to wait until Monday to confirm themselves as champions with a win at home to Watford, the 23-year-old delivered when it mattered by bundling the ball home from close range in front of the ecstatic Chelsea fans.
Prior to Batshuayi's strike, Chelsea had huffed and puffed against a dogged and determined home side, without truly looking like breaking the deadlock. They were always in control, but they were not wrapping up the title in style.
Diego Costa was subdued and Eden Hazard struggled to produce the moment of magic that he has often found at times this season. And against a West Brom team that was only interested in holding out for a point, Chelsea were fast running out of ideas.
But Batshuayi earned himself a place in Chelsea folklore by delivering the killer touch just as a draw seemed the only obvious outcome.
He may end up leaving Chelsea in the summer, but he can at least head out of Stamford Bridge having left something for the club to remember him for.
2. Are West Brom really the best of the rest?
It must be tough having a season ticket at The Hawthorns, considering the football that is played by Pulis' team.
Albion are on course to finish eighth this season, which would give them the dubious claim to be the best of the rest outside the wealthy top seven, but their football is dismal and they gave another example of their safety-first, fear-drive approach against Chelsea.
At times, Pulis' men operated with a back six and two holding midfielders, ensuring that they would strangle the life out of this game and frustrate Chelsea.
Clearly, no team wants to abandon all defensive duties and go for goals and entertainment without thinking of keeping the ball out of their own net, but West Brom take caution to a whole new level.
Contrast their style of play to that of Celta Vigo, a team in the bottom half of La Liga who played Manchester United off the pitch in Thursday's Europa League semifinal second leg with their bold, attacking football.
Celta came within inches of winning that game with the last kick, but for all of West Brom's risk-free football, they ended up with nothing from this game against Chelsea.
Pulis has kept the club in the Premier League and secured a top-10 finish, but surely there is more to football than merely surviving.
3. Have we seen the last of Terry in a Chelsea shirt?
It was noticeable in the final minutes of this game that Antonio Conte turned to Kurt Zouma as a late replacement for Victor Moses rather than club captain John Terry.
With Chelsea 1-0 ahead and needing only to hold out for the final four minutes, Zouma was thrown on to ensure that no goals were conceded, but Terry remained rooted to the substitutes' bench.
It was an opportunity for Conte to turn to his experienced captain, who will leave the club at the end of the season due to his contract not being renewed, but Conte went for youth instead.
The Chelsea fans serenaded Terry at the end of the game as the victorious players celebrated their title triumph in front of the visiting supporters, but will they get the chance to give the club legend a proper farewell at Stamford Bridge?
Chelsea face Watford at home on Monday before wrapping up their campaign against relegated Sunderland at Stamford Bridge on the final day, so Terry will hope to make one last appearance for the club before he bows out.
Mark Ogden is a senior football writer for ESPN FC. Follow him @MarkOgden_