One victory from their opening eight Championship matches is not the return Steve Bruce or any Baggies fan desired as Albion have developed an early-season tag of draw specialists.
There is no question that, by and large, Bruce’s side have deserved more from their performance levels this season. It is only games against Cardiff and Wigan, admittedly two teams not expected to be troubling the top spots, where Albion have not performed.
It has been the case of hard-luck story at times, but Albion have to put that chapter to bed in a bid to really get their campaign off the ground.
Draws, while OK to maintain momentum and unbeaten runs, get teams nowhere fast and Bruce will be wary that more points dropped will see the early pace-setters and top-six hunters pull further and further ahead. This simply has to start at Coventry City’s CBS Arena tomorrow. Coventry, while having played up to three fixtures fewer than rivals this term due to pitch damage from the Commonwealth Games, are bottom and winless from from five games.
The Sky Blues are in transition after some player movement over the summer but Albion cannot afford to be charitable against Mark Robins’ side tomorrow.
City’s four defeats from five league games, with one point coming against Sunderland in their first outing, have included three defeats by the odd goal. Coventry are not getting blown away, but their confidence will be low.
Only one statistic counts in football – the final score. But Albion’s underlying numbers so far this season do not paint the picture of a team down in 16th with a single victory from eight games.
In almost every expected goal (xG) figures available – the metric used to calculate the quality of a chance on goal – Albion sit among the top two or three.
The same can be said for a defensive record that has actually seen them concede too many goals. The figures – expected goals against (xGA) – show Albion should have conceded the least number of goals in the league, in terms of the quality of a chance.
The figures run deeper. Albion and Sheffield United have taken the most shots in the league this season with 45. Bruce’s men have let fly the most per 90 minutes. At the other end, they have faced the second fewest shots per game.
All of this, of course, adds up to forwards – and others – not taking enough chances and showing a clinical edge. It also shows a defence and goalkeeper conceding too many goals from shots faced.
These are things to work on. The window is shut now and, while Bruce will add a couple of free agents, the squad is what he has and Albion will be working on turning these encouraging metrics into the points that will paint their season in a better light.