Wigan v West Brom - Match preview

Albion have not been bad value for money for neutrals this season.

 Grady Diangana (Photo by Adam Fradgley/West Bromwich Albion FC via Getty Images).
Grady Diangana (Photo by Adam Fradgley/West Bromwich Albion FC via Getty Images).

But, ahead of a trip to Wigan tonight, they are yet to seal that first victory with a clean sheet in the league.

Steve Bruce’s men have developed an unwanted tendency to concede first in games. They have done so in six of eight matches in all competitions. There have been just two clean sheets – one with a victory, in the Carabao Cup.

Eight goals conceded in six league games is too many for a side who want to be where Albion do.

Bruce has suggested Albion are going to leave the back door open more this season because they play an aggressive formation and a more attacking, creative style of football.

He has noted much of the division operate with a back five with wing-backs to help soak up pressure and hit on the counter.

Interestingly, Wigan had also been using the same 4-2-3-1 as Albion this season, but veered to a back five at home to Burnley on Saturday, where they were smashed 5-1.

The Baggies look a strong attacking outfit this season – Jed Wallace and John Swift have made a telling difference in that regard. Bruce has also breathed new life into Grady Diangana. Their hunt for a loan No.9 before this week’s deadline goes on.

It is a marked difference from the side that struggled so badly for goals either side of Christmas last season and into the beginning of Bruce’s reign.

But Albion’s goals against column must improve. One of the best ways they will achieve that is by scoring first in games, which has been acknowledged publicly by both Bruce and Wallace.

Edge ahead and opponents will struggle. Albion’s quality will pick them off.

However, there is no doubt the midfield two and back four must improve in finding that balance between spaces left and being defensively solid.

That word – balance – between Albion’s attack and defence is vitally important moving forward. Bruce said: “The way we play we’re going to be open to the counter- attack.

“We have to deal with that in transition. I think that’s the fourth game in the row or whatever we’ve dominated the ball with 70 per cent possession.

“When we’re like that you do leave yourself a bit open and the way they play – they wanted to play on the counter-attack.

“I think we’re going to face that more and more. I think 80 per cent of the Championship plays with a back five now.

“We’ve got to find a way around it and through it.”

Wigan, managed by Leam Richardson – who led them to the League One title last season – had opened up with three draws in the second tier before winning at Blues playing with 10 men for 70 minutes.

The home mauling by Burnley, however, leaves them looking to respond – without injured skipper Tendayi Darikwa, who dislocated his shoulder on Saturday.

Bruce goes up against his former club who include winger James McClean, who made more than 100 appearances for Albion between 2015 and 2018, in their ranks.

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