The tone of the game was set when Kieran Gibbs got injured during the warm-up, prompting Lee Peltier to fill in at left-back.
Albion, who were joint with Leeds in goals conceded going into the game, clearly wanted to take the lead in something. Up steps Romaine Sawyers who produced an excellent no-look finish to find the back of his own net, putting Leeds ahead within nine minutes.Embed from Getty Images
It would take twenty minutes before Leeds doubled their lead. Alioski latched onto a fumbled clearance from Darnell Furlong to smash the ball off the inside of the far post. An excellent finish but the defenders were slow to close him down, allowing the left-back plenty of time to line up a shot.
Five minutes later Albion were sliced straight down the middle and Jack Harrison finished off the flowing move clinically with a strike into the roof of the net.
Spain international Rodrigo bagged another for the visitors as his strike deflected wickedly off O’Shea, leaving Johnstone rooted.Embed from Getty Images
The start of the second half saw the introduction of Branislav Ivanovic for Matt Phillips but it quite frankly could’ve been anyone. The change saw a switch to a back three with Peltier and Furlong taking up the role of wing-backs, whilst Robinson, Grant and Diangana led the line.
Leeds offered the chance of a goal to the Baggies when Meslier’s pass was intercepted by Diangana on the edge of the box, but his effort was tame and straight at the goalkeeper — Robinson would have been a better option, who was free beside him if Grady had looked up.
Matheus Pereira then entered the fray replacing Grant on the hour mark to try and salvage what was left of Albion’s dignity.
Raphinha, who had been lively all game, added to Leeds’ tally with an excellent strike after cutting inside onto his left foot and bending one into the top corner.
The full time whistle blew, much to the relief of the Albion team, to declare Leeds United winners. They deservedly took home all three points from the Hawthorns with a 5-0 scoreline.
The worst performance of the season so far. It was a humiliating display that will leave Allardyce wondering why he even entertained the idea of trying to keep a Championship side in a league they stand no chance of competing in. They were outclassed in every position on the pitch.
Token results against City, Liverpool and Chelsea mean nothing when you cannot rise to the challenge of teams in and around you. There was little attacking impetus throughout which is disappointing knowing that Leeds’ style of play will leave gaps for Albion to exploit. Robinson resorted to 30 yard pot-shots, and the change to a system, which is supposedly tailored for Pereira, had little impact as he clearly would rather have stayed on the bench.
The differences between these two promoted teams was astronomical tonight. Not just on the pitch but also at a managerial and board level. Allardyce has his work cut out with a squad of players who are, quite frankly, not up to par. Unlike Sheffield United last season, who vastly over-performed with their squad, Albion lack the desire and work rate to compete. The Blades have seemingly burnt out this season and it is astonishing that there is a team lower in the division.
Allardyce must have had some promises made to him before joining because he will not be able to turn this around without strong reinforcements. Even then, Albion’s recruitment of late has been appalling. Grant and Diangana are yet to put in a good performance and we are still waiting to see what Kipre looks like. Gallagher has been the one shining light but he will be left wondering whether he joined a football team or the circus. Of course, this all relies upon the board actually sticking to their word, which in the case of Hegazi they have proven otherwise.
In other news, I hope Bilic had a good Christmas at least.
Match Ratings: Johnstone (6); Furlong (3), Ajayi (4), O’Shea (4), Peltier (3); Robinson (4), Phillips (4), Sawyers (2), Gallagher (6), Diangana (4); Grant (3). Subs: Ivanovic (4), Pereira (3), Krovinovic (4).
West Brom: Johnstone; Furlong, Ajayi, O’Shea, Peltier; Robinson, Phillips (Ivanovic 45′), Sawyers, Gallagher, Diangana (Krovinovic 73′); Grant (Pereira 61′).
Subs (not used): Button, Kipre, Grosicki, Harper, Austin.
Leeds United: Meslier; Dallas, Ayling, Strujik, Alioski; Phillips; Raphinha (Costa 81′), Rodrigo (Hernandez 70′), Klich (Shackleton 58′), Harrison; Bamford.
Subs (not used): Kiko Casilla, Davis, Casey, Jenkins, Roberts, Poveda
Booked: Alioski (41′)
Referee: Lee Mason