Quarterly Report: West Bromwich Albion
After being reinstated in the Premier League by former boss Roberto Di Matteo in 2010, West Bromwich Albion have managed to find their feet, unlike many other promoted clubs. They finished 10th in the previous campaign courtesy of Roy Hodgson. But Roy’s commitment to the National Team meant, the ‘Baggies’ had to find a new manager. Steve Clarke, the former Chelsea defender, member of the coaching staff under Jose Mourinho and Assistant Manager at Liverpool, was given the reigns.
Steve Clarke is mostly known for his defensive organization tactics. He was the Defensive coach for Chelsea in the Mourinho era. His appointment as a manager cast serious doubts, whether he would be able to face the grueling Premier League challenges. And face he did, his team now sit 5th in the table with 20 points and a goal difference of 5. How did a mid-table team manage to crawl into the top five? You might be saying, we see this every season with one or the other teams. You might be right, but in this case, It might actually turn out the other way.
The opening day was a stage for a remarkable set of events as Liverpool and Co. were sent packing from The Hawthorns. Though they had a few setbacks against Fulham and Man City, the season so far has been steady and impressive. With a fluid 4-2-3-1 formation at his disposal, Steve weaved a team capable of churning out results. Shane Long has been instrumental in most of the positive results. His energy and eye for goal have kept opponent defenses on their toes. Peter Odemwingie settled in a much wider role as a winger, adapting to the fluidity with his cut-ins. In his eight appearances (three sub), he scored three goals and assisted three of them. His direct nature of play and poaching ability will be crucial in the coming months.
The captains of this ship though, would surely be the duo of Yusuf Mulumbu and Claudio Yacob. Their dominance in the mid coupled with the movement of James Morrison ahead of them, has generated fruitful outcomes. Though they are not that good at retaining possession, launching swift counter attacks has been the strong point. With ample ammunition on the wings, we can expect an entertaining contest each time West Brom play. Coming to the defense, 16 goals conceded in 13 matches points at a rather average defense. But, that has been the case for almost every team in the league. Olsson and McAuley might not be good at playing offside traps, but they surely contribute when it comes to set pieces on either side of the pitch. McAuley has won 80% of the aerial duels this season and also has a goal in his bag. Ben Foster has been a busy man on goal this season, making over 60 saves and keeping three clean sheets. The fullbacks, Ridgewell, Jones and Popov have supported the expansive style of the 4-2-3-1 by combining well with the wingers.
Romelu Lukaku, on loan from Chelsea, has been the marquee signing for the manager. 3 goals in 10 apps (7 sub) and averaging 2.3 shots per game, the Belgian has made his point clear and loud that he is capable of playing in the Premier League. His pace, shot power and heading ability are the major strengths and they can only get better for the 19 year old.
Statistics in All Competitions
Avg. Pass Success
Shots per Game
Coming months will not be easy for Steve Clarke as his team plays Chelsea, Arsenal and Manchester United until the New Year. If he sorts out his defensive woes and maybe sign one in January, it should be comfortable for West Brom, heading into the second half of the season. Their opponents though will have tough time containing the likes of Lukaku, Odemwingie and Morrison.