If the suggestions from the media are to prove correct, then it seems that Zoltan Gera is in line for his 2nd West Brom debut. The return of Gera will give an immediate lift to any Albion fan, you only had to see the reception he got at The Hawthorns for the Liverpool match-and he didn't even come off the bench!
I believe that Roy Hodgson saw the addition of Zoltan Gera as key when composing his squad for the season. Gera was injured at the time, and it was quite a big risk that the Baggies took. But I think the reason we took the risk is because Hodgson sees Gera as the final part of the jigsaw, in either a 4-4-2 or a 4-5-1.
During his first spell at the club, Gera was employed mostly on the right hand side of midfield and it was his performances there that convinced Hodgson to sign him for Fulham. Gera often played wide for Fulham in the Premier League, but was also frequently used in behind Bobby Zamora, particular in European games. It is easy to see where Gera can fit into both formations for West Brom.
Should Hodgson decide to continue using a 4-4-2, which I fully expect he will, I can see Zoltan Gera playing on the right wing with Chris Brunt wide left. This would certainly benefit Albion, for one it would provide much more creativity for whoever plays up front, who presumably would be Peter Odemwingie and Shane Long. But it would also help Albion's attacking and defensive shape. Chris Brunt has made a success of being a right-sided player but sometimes this works against Albion. He goes more and more central, clogging up the pitch and forcing the likes of Paul Scharner or Youssuff Mulumbu go wide. This does not help with the defensive shape either, as if Albion lose the ball, they have two players out of position.
By moving Brunt to the left-hand side, he will be far less likely to cut inside as he will be on his stronger foot. It is also provides Albion with another goal-scoring opportunity, as Brunt will be able to whip some fantastic crosses in with Gera and Shane Long being very strong in the air this will only play into our favour. And a final benefit to this is that they will cover the full backs better than Jerome Thomas, who does that well but sometimes gets caught out and his attacking is severley limted by his defensive duties.
But should Hodgson decide to do the unexpected and go to a 4-5-1, Gera would be the perfect option to play in behind the lone striker. Graham Dorrans and James Morrison had chances there last year, with neither nailing down a place. Simon Cox did well in that role towards the end of last season, but is clearly more suited to being a central striker. And Somen Tchoyi, well who knows what Somen's going to do there? Gera has shown that he can score and create goals at the highest level, and the likes of Long and Odemwingie would thrive on the service he provided whilst he would be able to drop seemlessly into the middle of the park when defending.
Whatever Hodgson goes for, it is certain that it will be meet with mass cheers from the Baggies faithful. Welcome home Zoltan!
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