Five talking points from West Brom's draw with Brentford
Albion drew 1-1 with an out-of-form Brentford side at The Hawthorns last night to move into third and extend their unbeaten run to four games. Here are five talking points from a one-sided match.
1 CURRENT SYSTEM STILL WORKING
Despite falling to a disappointing draw to an out-of-form Brentford side, the Baggies were by far the better team and should have been out of sight by half-time.
The first half performance, in particular, was one of Albion’s best of the season and the current crop is flourishing in this system which has now delivered 10 points from 12.
The finishing was shockingly wayward at times, but it’s hard to be overly critical of a team that has been so clinical in front of goal so far this season.
2 NO DEFINITIVE WINNER IN ROBSON-KANU v GAYLE
Hal Robson-Kanu was responsible for one of the game’s glaring misses, and lacks the natural predatory instinct of Dwight Gayle, the man who replaced him at half-time.
But Albion missed his physical presence up front in the second half. Gayle is a brilliant and tenacious striker, but he’s more useful in the middle than out wide.
This system arguably suits Robson-Kanu more, although you’d want a chance to fall to Gayle in the box.
But with the former Wales international a doubt for Friday, Darren Moore’s mind may be made up for him.
3 BAFFLING LACK OF ACTION OFF THE BENCH
Darren Moore was rewarded for holding his nerve against Swansea, but this time, his lack of substitutes in the second half failed to get Albion over the line.
James Morrison and Matt Phillips were both brilliant, but one of them might have been sacrificed at 1-0 for Chris Brunt or Gareth Barry, who are capable of settling things down.
Perhaps Moore was persuaded to hold firm by the Swansea win, but the lack of subs, just to break up play and run the clock down, was strange.
But in fairness to him, he has got far more decisions right than wrong in his first few months in charge.
4 INABILITY TO KEEP CLEAN SHEETS CONCERNING
Albion’s back-line has been in better form recently, and they kept Neal Maupay, one of the league’s most lethal strikers, quiet throughout.
But conceding injury-time goals is becoming a bad habit, and this week it cost the team.
Perhaps it’s down to mental fatigue, or perhaps it’s just the nature of this division, but one clean sheet every 20 games is unlikely to win promotion.
There are promising signs at the back, but the next step is to deliver some shut-outs.
5 THOUGHTS IMMEDIATELY TURN TO FRIDAY
It would have been great to go into the derby with Aston Villa off the back of four straight wins, but Albion are still on a rich vein of form with 10 points from a possible 12.
If they play like they did in the first half against Brentford, they will give themselves a superb chance at beating the in-form side of the division in a match dripping with sub-plot.
The songs started on Monday, and on Friday, the atmosphere will be electric. Beat Villa, and the disappointment of this draw will be immediately forgotten.