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.
That’s not to say it’s going to be an easy game against Swansea. Although they have yet to score in the premier league, it is not through lack of trying. Under Brendan Rodgers, Swansea have continued to pursue an attacking, passing almost continental style first implemented under Roberto Martinez. Although I have only really seen highlights on Match of the Day, it’s seemed to me that the Swans have not had the rub of the green so far, including Scott Sinclair hitting the bar with a rasping free kick last game at Arsenal.
Sinclair, and Swansea’s other winger Nathan Dyer, are the two who will provide the biggest challenge to Albion’s defence. Steven Reid and Nicky Shorey are not blessed with pace, whilst these two certainly are. This makes it even more important that Albion’s wide midfielders work hard to protect their full-backs, which was probably the one concern that emerged from last week’s victory such was the volume of crosses fired into Albion’s box. For the most part, Albion’s central defence and goalkeepers dealt with these effectively, though a little bit too much in Gabriel Tamas’ case who is suspended for this game following his elbow to James Vaughan.
This gives a chance to the promising youngster Craig Dawson, who is expected to get the nod over the more experienced Gareth McAuley and Paul Scharner, who still stay in midfield. There is never an easy game in the Premier League, but I’m sure Roy Hodgson is delighted that he is going to be able to blood Dawson against a less experienced top-flight attack. Danny Graham must be low on confidence, their club record signing having yet to score in the Premier League. And with him seemingly a doubt, The Swans may have to call upon the services of ex-Albion forward Luke Moore, who will no doubt have a point to prove against his former employers.
There is a lot worse Dawson could have been thrown in against, someone with the hustle and bustle of Kevin Davies or the movement and speed of a Luis Suarez.
I expect this to be the only change West Brom will make for this game, with Chris Brunt a doubt and Zoltan Gera ruled out opening up a space on the bench, which may be filled by Gonzalo Jara or George Thorne.
Expected line up:
Goalkeeper: Ben Foster
Right Back: Steven Reid
Centre Half: Craig Dawson
Centre Half: Jonas Olsson (C)
Left Back: Nicky Shorey
Right Midfield: Graham Dorrans
Centre Midfield: Paul Scharner
Centre Midfield: Youssuff Mulumbu
Left Midfield: Jerome Thomas
Striker: Peter Odemwingie
Striker: Shane Long.
I decided not to predict a score for the Norwich game as it seemed I cursed us against Stoke. However, I’ve decided to make a return for this match. I believe Swansea will break their goal-scoring duck, but Albion will grab a point.
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