#1 Callum Robinson can play as a number nineEmbed from Getty Images
West Bromwich Albion need a striker to stand a chance of staying in the Premier League. Everyone knows this — it was true before the Chelsea game, and it is still true now.
Robinson is doing his best to fill the void and absolutely succeeded against a new-look Chelsea side, nabbing a brace, both thanks to sloppy defensive mistakes from Marcus Alonso and Thiago Silva, respectively.
The mainstream media’s focus naturally turned to Chelsea’s defensive mistakes, yet those at Albion will be incredibly happy that Robinson ticked several boxes with his finishes which will prove crucial in his transformation into West Brom’s number nine.
This is Albion’s end goal, after all. Luke Dowling, Albion’s Sporting and Technical Director, said himself: ““We have seen his ability out wide and also feel he has the capacity to be equally effective in the central areas”.
The first box ticked is the fact that he scored with both feet. His first goal included clever movement to take himself away from the back four, before finishing emphatically with his left foot. The second finish ticked another box: not only scoring this time with his right foot, but finishing clinically after a defensive clanger from Chelsea.
Only a header to complete his hat-trick could have made it a perfect night for Robinson, but this will certainly do for now.
It remains to be seen whether Albion can secure their no.1 striker target before the window ends in two weeks (Karlan Grant). Yet, after Robinson’s display at the weekend, Slaven Bilic can rest assured that he has within his squad a versatile forward that can fill in at striker whenever he is needed.
#2 Semi Ajayi and Kyle Bartley can cut it in the Premier LeagueEmbed from Getty Images
Semi Ajayi’s night was perfectly symbolised by his darting run past left-back Marcus Alonso, letting Premier League fans know just how pacey he is.
Alongside Ajayi, Kyle Bartley seemed closer to his normal self; he was a leader, offering out instructions for the 90 minutes; he even took his finish well, as if he was a natural number nine.
Despite losing the three goal lead, this was more to do with Chelsea’s quality rather than the defensive mistakes that have plagued Albion’s two previous games.
The entire back line was on top form, including Premier League debutant Conor Townsend, as well as Darnell Furlong at wing-back, regularly threatening the right flank.
Bilic certainly has some thinking to do; will he stick with the 3-4-3, or revert to his preferred back four? In any case, Ajayi and Bartley are likely to keep their places as Albion’s senior centre backs.
#3 We still need to revert to a back fourEmbed from Getty Images
Albion’s result against Chelsea was fantastic, despite giving up a three goal lead, but it is clear the back five is not providing Bilic the defensive solidity he craves.
West Brom have conceded eleven goals in three games (13 in four if you include the EFL cup), which is the joint worst record in the Premier League, alongside Fulham.
The upcoming fixture against Southampton provides the perfect opportunity for Bilic to revert back to his preferred 4-2-3-1 / 4-3-3 formations, now that the midfield positions are looking much healthier with new signings Conor Gallagher and Filip Krovinovic.
A midfield three could pair Gallagher alongside Jake Livermore and Romaine Sawyers for the first time, or Krovinovic could return to the starting XI to resume his partnership with Sawyers, Livermore, Robinson and Matheus Pereira.
The question is, though, who will get dropped from the defence? Conor Townsend is a shoe-in at left back with Kieran Gibbs out; Darnell Furlong was exceptional against Chelsea, but Dara O’Shea is likely to move to right-back.
Bilic will likely stick with Bartley and Ajayi at centre back so not to disrupt the defence too much, but with Branislav Ivanovic and Ahmed Hegazi nearing full fitness, and Cedric Kipre hungry for minutes, there are certainly questions to be answered.
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