Stoke v West Brom: Will the three pillars stand up in the Potteries?

He has spoken about his key principles – or ‘three pillars’ – Albion have to excel at if they are to become a complete team.

West Bromwich Albion manager Valerien Ismael
West Bromwich Albion manager Valerien Ismael

And boss Valerien Ismael believes his side will have to show all three of them if they are to win at Stoke tonight.

In order to become the perfect team in his mould, Ismael wants his side to be the top team in possession, the top team out of possession and also the team that is strongest at scoring from set-plays.

The Baggies have impressed out of possession all season – with Ismael’s men having restricted their opponents to few clear-cut chances.

They have also impressed from set-plays – with Alex Mowatt’s corners and Darnell Furlong’s long throws particularly dangerous.

But it wasn’t until Tuesday’s trip to Cardiff – where they secured a thumping 4-0 victory – that they truly showed how good they can be on the ball.

And Ismael believes they are going to have to show all three sides to their game tonight when they travel to take on rivals Stoke.

“It’s another tough away game for us,” Ismael said, when asked what kind of threat Stoke will pose his side. “It’s another way to play from the Cardiff game. We need to adapt again.

“I think it will be a team that is possession-based, has very good players and a lot of experience in the side.

“But it will be the same, it will be all about us.

“We need to show our intensity, we need to press and we need to play and combine well.

“I think it will be the game where we see the three pillars from our way to play.

“I think in that game we will need to be complete.”

The win at Cardiff saw Grady Diangana register his first assist of the season – with the forward setting up Matt Phillips for Albion’s fourth goal.

In the game before that, Karlan Grant kick-started his season by netting a brace against QPR.

Speaking after that match, Ismael said he felt those goals would be an important confidence boost for Grant – who then netted again in Wales.

And the boss is hoping Diangana will get a similar lift from his assist in Cardiff.

“We said in the beginning that KG and Grady would have a massive part to play in our philosophy,” Ismael said.

“Now it is showing but we need more.

“The standards are high. And our expectations on the players are high because we see their quality.

“Now they need to put in the performances on the pitch.

“But they need to get their rewards, that is the important thing.

“It’s important for a striker to get goals and get assists but at the end of the day, that is the reason they earn their money.

“We are delighted for KG. You can see now the confidence is back.

“Now we’re on the same way with Grady. It was his first assist so it’s a good step in the right direction.”

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