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West Bromwich Albion
September 30, 2011
Posted by Matthew Evans on 09/30/2011

Albion under Hodgson are starting to worry me. This is not a knee-jerk Hodgson out blog, the results aren’t great but it’s more the performances that are worrying me. We have become used to a diet of fast, free-flowing, attacking, attractive football coupled with calamitous defending. Hodgson clearly had to re-address the balance.

And you cannot argue that his work on Albion’s defence is yielding good results. Despite no big-name addition to the defence over the summer, plus the constant chopping and changing at centre half due to illness and suspension, we have looked a far more solid proposition. Albion have already kept two clean sheets this year, the same amount as last season, as well as a clean sheet away from home, which eluded them last year.

However I feel that to make Albion better defensively, Hodgson has sacrificed too much of Albion’s attacking flair. We have become a dour, dull and defensive side, and have at times looked very much a long-ball team. I expected Hodgson to be more pragmatic in his style, with the defence becoming more no-nonsense whilst playing attacking football once away from danger. It is hard to blame this long-ball effect on the defence.

September 21, 2011
Posted by Matthew Evans on 09/21/2011

Saturday’s match at Swansea has certainly worried a lot of Albion fans, not just the result but the performance that went with it. We lacked any sort of creativity and cutting edge, therefore we tried to rely on staying tight and grinding out a victory...which didn’t work as shown by the 3-0 reverse suffered.

Tonight Albion head to Everton in the carling cup, and for some of the fringe players, there is a real chance for them to put themselves right into contention for a first team spot for the game 3 days later with Fulham. Therefore I’ve compiled a list of the fringe players who may find themselves as a first-teamer sooner rather than later with a good performance tonight.

September 16, 2011
Posted by Matthew Evans on 09/16/2011

West Brom head into their first Saturday 3 O’clock game of the season in a lot more confident mood than they did last week when travelling to Norwich. That is the effect of Albion getting some points on the board in their fourth game.

Last Sunday was not exactly a display of free-flowing, fluid passing football that Albion fans have become accustomed to. Yet it was one of the most satisfying three points for a while, as it proved that we could grind out results, and most importantly we could a keep clean sheet away from home, the first in the league since winning promotion under Roberto Di Matteo. And at Swansea, Albion fans will be wanting more of the same, but maybe with a bit more control from the midfield.

September 11, 2011
Posted by Matthew Evans on 09/11/2011

Ask me what I think the worst performance of Albion's season thus far was, and I'd say it was Sunday's performance. Yet, here I am sat typing this, the happiest I've been so far this season with three points on the board - after a 1-0 win against Norwich - and the table looking a lot better for it!

First game of the season against Manchester United, we put in a very resilient performance. Second game of the season against Chelsea, we could have beaten them if Shane Long had managed to give Somen Tchoyi the right pass with the goal gaping. Third game of the season against Stoke, it was close but I’d say we were the better side. Yet what did the table show: West Bromwich Albion 0 Points.

On Sunday Albion rode their luck, it was not a stellar performance by any means. But it was a performance I wanted to see. This match showed that alongside pretty football, The Baggies can grind out a result even if the performance was not to the usual standard. It’s not to say Albion didn’t create a lot of chances, they of course missed a penalty and hit the post. But Norwich seemed to have far more of the ball, and although they didn’t create many clear cut chances they certainly peppered the penalty area and Centre Halves were tested. However, they came through it, we kept a clean sheet.

Instead of the usual match report, I thought I’d sum up my feelings by going through stages of the match and what I was feeling at the time.

September 5, 2011
Posted by Matthew Evans on 09/05/2011

In the summer transfer window, Albion recruited four players to improve their defensive options. Gareth McAuley, Billy Jones and Martin Fulop all arrived on free transfers whilst Ben Foster arrived on loan. However, three games into the season and it seems to be that only one of these players is going to be a first choice.

And following the activity on dead-line day, it seems that instead of strengthening the weakest area of the side, Albion have in fact weakened it. The deals may have been lost in amongst the amateur dramatics performed by Jim White and the rest of the Sky Sports News team, but out of the door went Pablo Ibanez and Mareck Cech. Now neither of these two were exactly first team players, but they were certainly capable back-up.

But with those two now departed, it seems that Albion’s defence is weakened.

David Young Matthew Evans: I've supported West Brom all my life, and it's fair to say that they give me my fair share of ups and downs. I'm always guaranteed an emotional rollercoaster of a season whatever division the Baggies are in. I try to remain positive in my views on Albion, although that is impossible at some points. My favourite Albion player of the moment is Youssuff Mulumbu, and of my lifetime it has to be Super Bob Taylor.You can follow me on twitter @MattEvansWBA

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