London (AFP) – Chelsea manager Thomas Tuchel suffered the first defeat of his reign as lowly West Bromwich Albion swept to a stunning 5-2 win, while runaway Premier League leaders Manchester City prepared for a tough test at Leicester on Saturday.
Tuchel saw his 14-game unbeaten run since replacing the sacked Frank Lampard come to juddering halt at Stamford Bridge.
Christian Pulisic gave Chelsea the lead in the first half, but Blues defender Thiago Silva was sent off two minutes later for a second booking.
Second bottom West Brom made the most of that gift in first half stoppage-time as Matheus Pereira struck twice in quick succession.
They were the first home league goals conceded by Chelsea since Tuchel arrived in January, also ending a run of seven successive clean-sheets in all competitions.
Shell-shocked Chelsea capitulated in the second half as Mbaye Diagne got Albion’s third before Callum Robinson made it four.
Mason Mount’s reply was no consolation for Chelsea, who conceded five at home in the league for the first time since 2011 when Robinson grabbed his second in the final moments.
Chelsea remain in fourth place after their first home league defeat against West Brom since 1978.
But West Ham and Tottenham would both go above them if they win their games on Monday and Sunday respectively.
It was the worst possible preparation for Chelsea’s Champions League quarter-final first leg against Porto on Wednesday.
Tuchel called for calm, insisting he would not read the riot act to his players and taking his share of the blame.
– ‘We have to accept it’ –
The German selected the rusty Thiago after his injury absence and left Mount on the bench until half-time following a busy international period with England.
“We cannot lose our heads now and take away the trust we have in these players,” Tuchel said.
“It was the moment after the game to be honest, be calm and to tell everybody to breathe. We have to accept it now, it’s our first loss together.
“This is my responsibility. I trusted this line-up and I still think the line-up was strong enough now in this game.
“We were rusty, we were sloppy in the build-up in our own half and made many unforced errors.”
Manchester City can move a step closer to their third title in four seasons if they beat third placed Leicester at the King Power Stadium.
Pep Guardiola’s side are 14 points clear of second placed Manchester United and 15 ahead of Leicester.
City, chasing an unprecedented quadruple, will also have their Champions League quarter-final first leg against Borussia Dortmund on Tuesday at the back of their minds.
Leicester thrashed City 5-2 in September and their hopes of another famous triumph could rest with former Manchester City striker Kelechi Iheanacho, voted the Premier League Player of the Month for March after scoring seven times in his last four games in all competitions.
In the day’s final match, Liverpool can take advantage of Chelsea’s stumble when they travel to Arsenal.
Jurgen Klopp’s side can move within two points of Chelsea if they secure a second successive league victory for the first time since January.
Leeds pushed bottom-of-the-table Sheffield United closer to relegation with a 2-1 win against their Yorkshire rivals at Elland Road.
Jack Harrison put Leeds ahead with a 12th minute tap-in from Raphinha’s cross.
The Blades equalised in first half stoppage-time, with Ben Osborn nudging Oli McBurnie’s deflected shot over the line despite Luke Ayling’s attempt to block.
In the 49th minute, Blades defender Phil Jagielka turned Harrison’s cross into his own net, leaving the visitors 14 points from safety with only eight games left.
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