Eight goals conceded. Two goals scored. 3-0 loss against Leicester, 5-2 against Everton. West Bromwich Albion have experienced a rude awakening upon their return to the Premier League, in what is possibly one the strongest line-ups in years.
It appears worrying for the Baggies’ survival hopes at first glance, but after a high-scoring weekend across the Premier League, Slaven Bilic’s men should find solace in the new trends.
Here are some of the high-scoring results from the past two gameweeks:
- Fulham 0-3 Arsenal
- West Brom 0-3 Leicester
- Brighton 1-3 Chelsea
- Everton 5-2 West Brom
- Leicester 4-2 Burnley
- Southampton 2-5 Tottenham hotspur
These results clearly show the gap between the top and bottom of the table has increased over the summer transfer window. Those threatening the top half of the table are not just better than those at the other end, the quality gulf is significantly wider.
This should come as no surprise, given the economic impact of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic on clubs across the country and indeed the world. Those at the top end of the table have been able to use their longstanding wealth, while those at the bottom survive on scraps.
West Brom, for example, had planned a £45m budget, which was slashed to £20m, due to the final repercussions of games behind closed doors. Meanwhile, Chelsea have been able to splash over £200m on six new players.
Manchester United are pondering an £108m deal for Borussia Dortmund winger, Jadon Sancho; Burnley, on the other hand, have not spent a penny.
It should certainly come as no surprise, then, that the results reflect the spending trends, and Albion can take solace in this. It is clear they are not the only club to be impacted by this trend, which means they are certainly not alone in facing relegation.
Bilic and the management team must drill into his players that fixtures against opposition lower down the table are crucial in the fight for survival. This does not mean that they should accept defeat against the likes of Arsenal and Spurs – it simply means there is more riding on other fixtures more than ever.
West Brom face a trip from Chelsea on Saturday evening, which undoubtedly represents their most difficult fixture since their promotion back in July. This is followed by a trip to Southampton, which Bilic must clearly target as Albion’s first real chance of getting three points on the board. This could be aided by Southampton’s slow start, with two defeats from two.
If Albion manage to get a victory against Southampton, they will go into the international break with points on the board, and the feeling that there are certainly points to be won this season.
If they do not, they may face a two week break where they find themselves questioning if they are really good enough for the Premier League.
October is by far West Brom’s most important month of the season. After facing Southampton, they are against Burnley, Brighton and Fulham. Ideally, Albion must be targeting at least six points, ideally eight.
This would give Albion a much needed boost in confidence following another difficult sequence of fixtures against Spurs and Manchester United.
The face of football has changed, possibly forever, due to the COVID19 pandemic. The typically successful clubs will gain more whilst the rest fight simply to stay up. Albion are not the only ones that could be left behind, so they must take advantage of their own position and play the points game – their Premier League status will depend on it.
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