West Brom comment: Failure to convert their chances the issue for Albion

It’s been said many times over the past few months that Albion would ultimately be relegated because they would run out of time.

Darnell Furlong of West Bromwich Albion reacts and puts his hands on his head after an Albion chance to score is missed. (AMA)
Darnell Furlong of West Bromwich Albion reacts and puts his hands on his head after an Albion chance to score is missed. (AMA)

The improvements the Baggies have made since the start of February have been clear for all to see.

But you can’t start a Premier League campaign six months in and expect to survive.

Albion, most fans and pundits believe, have made their improvements too late.

Intriguingly, though, Sam Allardyce doesn’t agree.

Prior to the Wolves game, the 66-year-old was asked whether having more time would be the one thing he’d like to change about this season.

And his answer was an interesting one.

“We could say we needed more games or more time but we didn’t really need it,” he said. “When I look at the games before the wins against Chelsea and Southampton, we should’ve won three or four more matches. That shows we did have time. But we failed to take the clear cut chances we created.

“Burnley, Man United, Everton, Fulham, it went on and on and on.

“It was a great disappointment. I kept travelling home and I was constantly gutted because we weren’t going to get any credit for how we’d been playing because we hadn’t won.”

Allardyce does have a tendency to forget about chances the opposition create when reflecting on games.

For example, he said he couldn’t believe Albion didn’t beat Wolves in the Black Country derby because of the chances missed by Conor Gallagher and Conor Townsend.

But he failed to mention the visitors also had big chances of their own with Nelson Semedo and Fabio Silva going close. The way to assess things is to look at the xG statistics – the so-called expected goals calculation which show how many goals a side should score from the quality of chances created in a game – in the 11 games that have taken place since Allardyce improved the squad by signing Robert Snodgrass, Mbaye Diagne, Okay Yokuslu and Ainsley Maitland-Niles.

And they do back up the argument made by the Dudley-born chief. In reality, Albion won three of the 13 games they played since they made their January additions. But when it comes to xG, the statistic shows they should have won six of those matches and also should have drawn with Everton instead of being beaten.

There is a caveat in that Brighton produced a better xG score at The Hawthorns when the Baggies beat them 1-0.

But if Albion had won all the games in which xG states they had the better chances – and also beat Brighton who often top xG stats but fail to win – they would now have eight more points on the board.

And with two of those points coming from their game against Newcastle, it would mean – while still in the relegation zone – the Baggies would be one win away from climbing out the bottom four.

Of course, as it stands, Albion aren’t mathematically relegated yet.

But it is only a matter of time with the team 10 points from safety with just four games remaining.

Allardyce, though, is right. It isn’t a lack of time that has cost them, it’s their failure to convert clear-cut chances.

“I’ve had other sides which might not have played as well as this side consistently – but they had goalscorers like Jermaine Defoe or Christian Benteke,” the boss said when asked what the difference is between this side and others he has kept up in the past like Sunderland and Crystal Palace.

“So we had those lads we could rely on to score one-in-two chances or even score both chances.

“That’s where we’ve slightly been missing. And on the other side of it, we haven’t shared the goals out enough.

“Other players have not been forthcoming. Attacking midfielders and wide players are on ones and twos and they should be on fives and sixes and that would have relieved the pressure on the frontline more.

“That would have given us a better opportunity to win more games but that hasn’t happened. It’s not for the want of trying. I can’t knock them for that.

“That quality of finishing, unfortunately, has just been lacking.”

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