West Bromwich Albion have struggled in the opening stages of the season, picking up just five points from a possible 15. The Baggies have come under scrutiny for their lacklustre performances and Tony Pulis’ side failed to inspire once again as they were held to a 0-0 draw at home against Ronald Koeman’s Southampton.
Albion made some interesting moves in the transfer window, acquiring the likes of Jonny Evans and Anders Lindegaard from Manchester United as well as James Chester and club record signing Salomon Rondon from Hull City and Zenit Saint Petersburg respectively.
Although West Brom currently sit 13th in the Premier League, the early signs have been disappointing, flat and even a little boring at times.
Their build-up play has been incredibly slow and was noticeably more so without Saido Berahino in the squad against Southampton. The England under-21s star, who vowed to never play under Albion chairman Jeremy Pearce again after his proposed move to Tottenham Hotspur was blocked, came on as a second-half substitute against Saints and received a mixed reception from The Hawthorns crowd.
Berahino is West Brom’s best player by a long way and the Baggies supporters know his importance to the team. He scored 20 goals for the club last season and was voted the Players’ Player of the Year after a fantastic individual campaign.
However, it could be argued that the fans were right to give him a lukewarm reception. Footballers must realise that they are not bigger than the club and the Albion supporters were keen to let Berahino know their feelings but will continue to support him as long as he remains at The Hawthorns. Now, West Brom will move on from this fiasco as they bid for a relegation battle.
West Brom do have talented players but they’re just not performing at the levels that they are capable of reaching at this present moment. Last season, Tony Pulis ensured that the Baggies were solid and reliable in defence, making them difficult to beat. This campaign, however, teams have adapted when playing against Albion and are finding ways to expose their defensive line.
West Brom may need to adopt a slightly different, more attacking mentality in the future if they are to stay in the Premier League, starting with the local derby against Aston Villa in their next league game. 32Red price the Baggies at 11/5 to claim victory at Villa Park – a result that would give them huge confidence for a difficult run of matches ahead.
Traditionally, Pulis’ teams have been aggressive and that has been no different during his tenure at West Brom. Last season, the Baggies were one of the most physical sides in the top flight yet their disciplinary record was very good. This term, they have lost that added bite in the centre of midfield and have struggled to put opposing sides under pressure in the middle of the park.
The Baggies must improve their fitness and ability to hurry opposing players, especially against the Premier League’s better clubs. You simply cannot afford to give the likes of David Silva and Cesc Fabregas time on the ball or they will create havoc in the final third of the pitch.
West Brom will take some time to adapt and incorporate their summer signings into the team. While some have slotted immediately into the team, those who haven’t played Premier League football before will take some time to adjust to the pace and physicality of England’s top flight.
Salomon Rondon has shown some glimpses of positivity in the opening stages of the campaign but Pulis’ men will need more than glimpses if they are to secure their top flight status this season. The Baggies haven’t been relegated to the Championship since the 2008-09 season and Pulis will be looking to guarantee their survival once again.
With a bit of luck, West Brom can survive the drop this season but they must improve significantly or else they risk dropping out of England’s top flight.
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