Seven days after a humbling defeat to Chelsea, West Brom bounced back to winning ways against Sunderland courtesy of a goal from debutant Peter Odemwingie. The regularity with which disappointment afflicts Baggies supporters meant that this victory came as more of a surprise than it would for, say, a Birmingham or a Fulham fan, as so often West Brom follow up an embarassing defeat with another similar failure.
As the lineups were announced on Saturday, the inclusion of Odemwingie generated the kind of buzz that few new signings do at the Hawthorns - owing mainly to the breaking of a West Brom custom known (snappily) as 'Buying Players No-one Has Heard Of'. Yet pessimism permeates even the happiest of occasions for fans of bi-polar West Brom and quickly thoughts turned to the likelihood that Odemwingie might have been rushed into action, just a day after signing on from Lokomotiv Moscow, or most worryingly, that at 29 the player had only come within West Brom's grasp because he was past his best.
Five minutes into the game and all fears about about the new signing remained in full-focus when he dragged an early chance wide. Doubts over Odemwingie's fitness and motivation were assuaged relatively soon after that though, with his pace and willingness to chase lost causes proving that he can offer his new team something Ishmael Miller and Roman Bednar cannot: namely: an attacking presence that Premier League defenders are forced to consider with more than a passing glance.
Indeed, West Brom started the game well as a team, controlling possession effectively and consistently threatening Sunderland's full backs by moving the ball out wide quickly. Chris Brunt created several early shooting opportunities against former West Brom favourite Kieran Richardson as a result of what was obviously a concerted effort to switch play quickly, but the score remained level at half time with Steve Bruce's side still very much in the game.
That pattern continued well into the second half, with the game becoming dangerously open from a West Brom perspective. However, with nine minutes of an increasingly tense game remaining, James Morisson's through ball split Titus Bramble and Paolo Da Silva, allowing Odemwingie to slide the ball past an onrushing Simon Mignolet in the Sunderland goal.
West Brom now move on to face Liverpool knowing that they have more points in the bag then Roy Hodgson's side. Three points will do nicely.