Our EPL scribe takes a look at Wednesday's clash between West Brom and Swansea being played at The Hawthorns.
One week ago and this game would have looked a foregone conclusion. Swansea were deep in the relegation mire, seemingly stranded in a sea of ineptitude. West Brom have gone about their business in a typically attritional manner, having no shame in surrendering large swathes of possession in the process. However, the Swan’s 3-0 win over the Black Cats could herald a sea of change at the Welsh club. Bob Bradley finally clasped onto some simple tactical alterations and Tony Pulis will recognize the danger that they could possess.
West Brom v Swansea City | Wednesday 14 December | The Hawthorns | 22:00
To Win (90 Mins)
West Brom 1/1 | Draw 47/20 | Swansea 26/10
You have to feel for Gareth McCauley. At 37-years-old - the oldest outfield player in the league - it’s a wonder he doesn’t get done for pace more often. But that’s exactly what happened when Diego Costa bullied him off the ball in their narrow 1-0 defeat to Chelsea. Pulis went about his business in a typically pugnacious manner, with Brunt and Phillips almost doubling up as a second line of full-backs. These games may actually prove trickier for the Cottagers, as they look to temper home ground aggression with their more steely determination.
Salomon Rondon has really proved inspiring for them this season. Similarly to Diego Costa, the Venezuelan striker worked tirelessly without the ball and could cause Swansea problems. Just look at the way that the generally disappointing Christian Benteke plagued them a few weeks back. Morrison and Phillips will also enjoy a far greater monopoly of possession this week, though they may have to be cautious of the counterattacking threat posed by Barrow and Montero.
It’s taking him some time, but it seems as if Bradley has stumbled across a system that works for him. It’s actually a fairly obvious routine. Llorente is your nominal target man and has actually been on fire of late. Montero and Barrow provide pace on the wings and look to get crosses into the Spaniard. Sigurdsson will then float in that influential number ten position, affecting the game in the way he always does.
Further back, Cork and Fer provide a fairly stable midfield unit. I always worry about their defence, particularly down the flanks where they tend to get exposed often. But this West Brom side is hardly the most progressive and should alleviate some of the pressure off this Swansea side. I still think that Swansea have problems and will find it difficult against a West Brom side with such well-defined roles.
Verdict: West Brom 1/1
Despite a positive result at the weekend, I expect this well-drilled West Brom side to come out and pick up a hard-fought win over Swansea. Phillips and Morrison were essentially bystanders in the Chelsea game and will be able to pick up loose balls in front of the Swansea back four.
Written by Damien Kayat @Hollywoodbets