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Coventry v West Brom: Numbers don't make good reading for Albion

It’s four games without a win, four defeats in their last 10 outings and four hours (and 55 minutes) since they last scored.

WALSALL, ENGLAND - DECEMBER 01: Valerien Ismael Head Coach / Manager of West Bromwich Albion at West Bromwich Albion Training Ground on December 1, 2021 in Walsall, England. (Photo by Adam Fradgley/West Bromwich Albion FC via Getty Images).
WALSALL, ENGLAND - DECEMBER 01: Valerien Ismael Head Coach / Manager of West Bromwich Albion at West Bromwich Albion Training Ground on December 1, 2021 in Walsall, England. (Photo by Adam Fradgley/West Bromwich Albion FC via Getty Images).

Those numbers mean Albion currently sit fourth in the Championship as they prepare to take on Midlands rivals Coventry tomorrow.

And that pattern continues with head coach Valerien Ismael now the 4/1 favourite with the bookmakers to be the next Championship manager to lose his job.

In this writer’s opinion, it is still far too early to be talking about the Frenchman’s future.

He deserves time and a few more transfer windows to be able to bring in the players that suit his philosophy – with a centre-forward an absolute must next month.

But Ismael knows – before he can get that striker – he has to turn around this alarming drop in form.

The Baggies have won just one of their last six games.

And it’s their position in the table that’s really damning.

The strength of the Championship this year means Fulham, Bournemouth and Albion should be miles clear of everyone else.

Fulham and Bournemouth are.

And at the very least, Albion should be on their coattails.

They should not be fourth, one point behind QPR after 20 games.

The big positive for Ismael is that his side has the best defensive record in the division.

Expected goals data – or xG as it is known – states that on average Albion are expected to concede 0.95 goals per game. The Baggies are the only side in the division with a figure lower than one.

All their problems are at the other end – where, very simply, they don’t create enough chances or score enough goals.

Since they last found the net via Grady Diangana against Middlesbrough, Ismael’s side has had 55 attempts of goal.

But the xG from those chances is just 4.25. And that tells you everything you need to know.

Albion get into dangerous areas. But they don’t create many clear goalscoring opportunities.

A powerful centre-forward who knows where the next is and who can knit Albion’s front three together will make a huge difference for Ismael and his team. But until one arrives, the boss has to get more out his current crop of forwards.

While Karlan Grant has done his bit with eight goals, the truth is Callum Robinson, Matt Phillips, Jordan Hugill and Diangana all need to contribute more.

Ismael won’t change system – with the boss adamant all solutions can be found in his 3-4-3 formation.

So far, though, that system hasn’t worked for his forwards – with Ismael needing to find the answer quick.

Ahead of this game, the boss also has a big decision to make in central midfield – with Jake Livermore and Jayson Molumbly suspended.

Alex Mowatt will start. But with Robert Snodgrass believed to be out of favour, Ismael is going to have to get creative with Adam Reach, Semi Ajayi or Phillips likely to have to fill in for a game.

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